Marians, Clade Mary

Widespread haloist civilization/clade.

Image from Anders Sandberg
The dark, cold halo object Mary, original home of the Marians

An early Haloist Clade

One of the most widespread Middletech Haloist societies is Clade (or Phyle) Mary. They are named after an outer Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) in Sol System where they originated. Mary is a 90km KBO orbiting an average 48 AU from Sol; the colony was founded in 499 AT by humans mildly tweaked for low gravity and low light conditions. The new colony cut itself off from the rest of Terragen Society when the Technocalypse hit, and until they were contacted again by the First Federation they thought they were the only survivors of the children of Earth.

Marian Society in the Dark Ages

The colony on Mary used fusion power, fuelled by hydrogen and helium extracted from the ices and regolith. This provided energy for life support systems, including biomass growth in hydroponic gardens and recycling systems. Fusion power should have been adequate for their needs, but the fusion plants were complex systems and subject to normal degradation due to the stress of operation. Once they were isolated from resupply, the colonists found it challenging to maintain the system and find the necessary rare-earth elements for repairs. This led to longer and longer periods of down-time; the rest of the time the colony ran on stored energy. The amount of solar power available was negligible so far from the Sun.

The limited resources available on this small object required that each member of Marian society conserved all available energy and matter. Marian society quickly became rigid, closed and bureaucratic, and a caste system soon emerged, where every citizen was educated for a single duty. All citizens were sterilised; children were born in exowombs and educated in a central nursery facility deep in the core. Most people belonged to the various life-support branches like Biomass Management (BM: agriculture, sanitation), Matter Management (MM: water, air, mining), Energy Management (EM: energy production and distribution) and Technology Management (TM: repairs, building and maintenance of the habitat). Above them in the hierarchy were Information Management (IM: communications, media), Human Management (HM: nursing, education, medicine, economics, and social security), Security Management (SM: the police, surveillance) and finally Project Management (PM: administration, planning and oversight). Each of the 8 branches had representatives in the so-called Planning Committee, formally with similar status but in practice ranked.

Society on Marian habitats was dominated by matters of scarce resources. Withholding resources was regarded as treason, and selfishness was seen as the worst sin (except for endangering the habitat). On the other hand HM recognised that the citizens needed things like privacy, personal space, creativity and individuality (but even these tendencies could be ameliorated by conditioning). Their solution was to encourage such resource-economical activities as recreational sex, lucid dreaming, meditation and virtual gaming. The virtual recreations provided developed from simple network games producing cheap excitement into elaborate collaborative fantasy worlds. Stories and conflicts within the games became matters that filled everyday discussions, and IM continually devised new gameworlds of increasing complexity. Beside their occupational status, many citizens became known for their rankings in various games. Everyday reality was often regarded as the boring but necessary basis for the true reality of dreams. At the same time the games gave HM and SM an unobtrusive way to monitor people's psychological profiles. Computer games, sex and lucid dreaming quickly became the most popular forms of entertainment on this small world.

The Marian Dark Age economy was based on RCUs, Resource Consumption Units. Each unit allowed a certain amount of air, food, water, energy and services. Nursing and education incurred a RCU debt, which had to be worked off to the habitat — such debts were known as "the duty category". Once a person worked off their duty category debt, (which took many years since they also needed RCUs to pay for their physical needs) they became "duty free" and in theory able to do what they want. In practice they generally had to remain in their assigned occupations - migration between castes was rare.

People who were too old or sick to work or lacked RCUs were seen as liabilities to the system, and not allowed to consume resources. They were frozen in the Repository, awaiting the day when "the Crisis" ended and resources became abundant again, although few people held out much hope for that. Crimes were usually punished by fines, behaviour therapy (which also incurred a cost, of course; this could put someone back in the duty category) or, for serious crimes, freezing.

Everything was monitored, analysed and checked. The management systems monitored everyone and noted any deviation from normal behaviour (some people who behaved too variably were marked as "unpredictable" and generally avoided). There were a few cases of corruption in this period, followed by purges to protect the colony from "waste and favouritism"; an atmosphere of paranoia became a constant feature of society. Still, some black market and semi-legal activity did occur, partly as a security valve which was accepted (after sociological studies) by HM (and secretly, as a way for SM to be able to blackmail people where necessary).

Marian Technology was not very advanced, and suffered some regression due to the lack of sentient AI; generally equal to Interplanetary Age technology from around 300 AT, with an emphasis on life support technology and asteroid and comet mining. After the Technocalypse the Marians decided to protect themselves from software attacks by isolating themselves from outside transmissions; only data from 'highly trusted sources' was allowed, and soon that came to mean that all external sources were blocked. They dismantled their tranceivers as a 'temporary' measure, and did not rebuild them until they made contact with the Federation hundreds of years later.


MM (Matter Management) dealt with mining, purifying, distilling He3 from the regolith and producing breathable air, drinkable water and raw materials. Most of the organisation was little more than a mining venture, and it had fairly low political status despite constant media barrages about how essential it was. Section 2 of MM ran most of the factories producing goods; local corruption allowed the black market to get access to certain goods.

BM (Biomass Management) dealt with the production, use and recycling of biomass. BM did the laborious conversion from water and minerals into biomass, tending the hydroponic gardens, production of more advanced biological products and sanitation/recycling. BM constantly sought more raw materials to keep the biomass levels up.

EM (Energy Management) ran the fusion powerplants and powergrids. It was generally regarded as a bit arrogant, and often had problems working with TM. EM had a reputation for running emergency drills too often, although their fusion technology was becoming increasingly antiquated and this may have been justified.

TM (Technology Management) was responsible for keeping the overall technological system running. They built, maintained and repaired the habitat, oversaw the day-to-day function of the automation and ran several manufactories to produce new parts. While most of TM had fairly low status some sections were respected, such as Section 6 which was responsible for safety and emergencies; there were many stories about the heroics of Section 6 employees fighting disasters against huge odds and saving the habitats at the cost of their lives. Another section was Section 8, which in theory maintained the few remaining space vehicles and off-habitat sensors. Most of Section 8's technology was barely functional, and few people ever left Mary or even looked outward at the stars.

IM (Information Management) was the most popular and expansive part of Mary society. It built and maintained the information and computer resources, and Section 2 produced the entertainment everybody watched or played. Section 7 was less well known, as it was responsible for propaganda, subliminal messages and monitoring; it was closely linked to SM.

HM (Human Management) was a huge organisation with sections ranging from economics (Section 1), sociological studies (Section 2), education (Section 3), health care (Section 4), housing (Section 5), sports (Section 6), psychology (Section 7), reproduction (Section 8) and cryonic freezing (Section 9).

SM (Security Management) kept track of where the citizens were, what they were doing and if it was dangerous. Section 1 dealt with physical dangers and how to deal with them (they coordinated with TM Section 6), while Section 2 was about law enforcement. Section 2 monitored the habitat through surveillance cameras, and sent out the Blacks to fetch offenders for punishment or therapy. Section 3 was about internal security; it was not well known and kept a low profile.

PM (Project Management) was the central administration of Mary, organising the other management sections and making sure they worked together to solve the Crisis.

The Marian Underworld had varying fortunes during this period. It dealt with illegal drugs, stolen goods and betting as well as various protection rackets. Many of the transactions (and some crimes) were done in the game virtuals: since RCUs were highly monitored, game scores and in-game-money were used instead. SM was actively engaged against the underworld groups, but the criminals were often able to avoid sanction, and SM was more concerned with monitoring legal activities and the overall lives of the citizens .

Clade Mary Habitat
Image from Anders Sandberg
Inside a typical Marian habitat; the high ceilings accommodate the loping gait of the inhabitants, a result of very low gravity


Marian Aesthetics during the Dark Age was fairly drab and utilitarian, with colour mainly used for warning signs and symbols. Since the temperature was always 21 degrees C, people dressed in white shorts and T-shirts marked with their names, position and rank. Tattoos were fairly common, often abstract patterns or depictions of various characters from popular virtual games.


Resource Consumption Units. One RCU corresponded roughly to the amount of air, water, biomass, electricity and services needed to survive one day. Common derived units were the centiRCU and deciRCU.


Mary used seconds as the time unit. Common measures were kilos (1000 seconds, around 16 minutes), days (100,000 seconds, around 28 hours) and megas (1000,000 seconds, a 10 day week). By tradition the orbital aphelion and perihelion were celebrated by a brief holiday, periday.


Each Management had its own colour (BM green, HM blue, EM yellow, SM black, PM red, TM purple, MM beige, and IM grey), worn on lapel badges signifying rank and organisation (vertical band to the left, with a square to the right whose height denoted rank). All the colour bands put together formed the symbol for the entire Marian colony.

Later History of Mary and the Marians

Marians are quite common throughout much of the Inner Sphere, and being not as secretive as some Haloist clades are better known to sociologists and anthropologists. When they were contacted by the First Federation, the Marians were able to upgrade their fusion plants to Hotpoint technology and their economic system became much more robust. Some of the cryogenically frozen colonists were revived and became part of the new, more open society; others were shipped out to the halo objects surrounding the stars of the Inner Sphere, and founded new colonies there.

Many colonies descended from Marian colonists have adopted similar social organisations and liveries, often with minor differences - for instance in June KBO (Barnard System) a circle rather than a square is used to designate rank. Modern haloist societies of this type often dispense with many or most Management organisations, especially Security and Human Management, since these functions can be carried out more efficiently by competent expert systems and security nets. However the organisations are sometimes retained for their social functions.

Although Mary became a member of the Solar Organisation after the fall of the First Federation, it retained many ties with the Hiders and Backgrounders in the outer reaches of many nearby stars. However a large fraction of the colonists who left Mary in the First Federation and later eras have migrated further out, joining the Shadow Federation which includes many well-hidden habitats in deep space, or the Deeper Covenant which has spread throughout the Terragen Sphere.

During the Dark Age the Marians were materialistic atheists, believing only in themselves and the importance of defeating the Crisis; many haloists that claim descent from this group remain atheistic, while others have become Cosmists and believe in (a somewhat cold and remote) spiritual cosmos; some have adopted the practical and conservative belief system of Negentropism.

Some Mariese Terms

Ars ... Slang for RCUs.
BeTer ... Behavioural Therapy. Used to treat various crimes and misdemeanors. The participants are said to have become BeTer afterwards.
Blacks ... People from SM. Similar slang is used for the other branches: greens for BM, blues for HM, reds for PM.
The Beyond ... The outside universe.
ComHaz ... Community hazard, a danger to everyone such as air leaks, blowouts, life support failure, meteor impacts or social unrest.
The Core ... The planning council.
The Crisis ... The current situation of scarcity, instability and imminent danger that has threatened Mary since it was founded.
Descend to the core ... Rise through the ranks. The most important functions are located in the lowermost parts of Mary.
Duted ... Returned to the duty category.
Duty free ... Somebody not owing the government RCUs.
Gamester ... Somebody addicted to the GamNet.
GamNet ... The game networks
GamMasters ... The best players.
In Repose ... Frozen in the Repository
Lux ... Lucid dream.
PersHaz ... Personal Hazard, a danger such as vacuum, heat, cold, radiation or dangerous machinery.
Regolith ... Somebody with a mind like regolith: flaky, boring and useless. Insult.
Shirker ...Somebody not paying his dues.
Stress ... Music style popular among the gamesters.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg Some additions by Steve Biowers and Todd Drashner
Initially published on 09 September 2001.