Alpha Star

Alpha Star
Image from Steve Bowers

Alpha Star Data Panel

NAME :Alpha Star
SYSTEM :Corridor 344
PRIMARY :YTS 2915-15824332, formerly Harkington's Star
REGION :The Seams, Kappa Nu Triant Corridor, Negentropy/Keter border
PLANETS :None. A thin debris disk has been used to construct many different forms of habitats and virch nodes.
AI OVERSEERS :None apparent. Though the weylforges undoubtedly hold transapient entities, they do not communicate with the modosophont populace.
S ETHOS :Burdikeer Ethos.
AFFILIATION :The A2 NeoMonarchy
ALLIES :Jeon, the Greyman Empire
LOCAL GOVERNMENT :Benevolent virtual police state. The power is distributed in a feudal manner.
POPULATION :c.163 billion sophonts
POPULATION BREAKDOWN:Bionts : 3.4% : approx 5.5 Billion
Artificials : 2.6% : approx 4.2 Billion
Infomorphs : 79.3% : approx 129.3 Billion
Xenosophonts : 0.02% : approx 33.0 Million
Cyborg : 14.7% : approx 24.0 Billion
STARGATES TO:Blue (Corridor 343), Delta Star (Knot 8238)

Harkington's Star is Disconnected from the Nexus

Before the Version war and the establishment of the Seam Treaty Zones, YTS 2915-1582433 was a prosperous system called Harkington's star. Perhaps 200 million embodied sophonts, and many billion virtuals and aioids of several different toposophic levels inhabited the system, whose large star provided vast amounts of energy and plenty of resources. During the Version War, Harkington's star was suddenly cut off from the surrounding world when unrelated events destroyed both wormholes of the systems at their opposite terminus within a few months of each other. For several decades Square Logic Infinitum, the S:3 supervisor of the system, kept the machinery running and protected its charges, awaiting the return of connection to the surrounding world.

Such peace was not to last. Square Logic Infinitum went mad for no known reason. Some guessed that E had fallen victim to some blight or become one Emself, others thought E had been affected by long-dormant trojans either from the Version War or before, and still others thought E was sabotaged after the loss of the wormholes. All was not lost. Alpha Star had been a major subprocessor node on the GodNet and SLI wasn't the only high-level sophonce in the system. Three such sophonces had previously created ISO's and left the system, but Scarlet Mephistos remained. Scarlet Mephistos took up the fight against SLI, both in defense of the lower toposophics as well as in defense of eir self.

The fighting was purely digital, but no less savage for the fact. The billions of modosophonts and thousands of lower transapients were used as foot soldiers by both sides. Billions of virtual entities died, were cannibalised for code, copied, edited, and used in countless other ways. What the merciless SLI did, Scarlet had to do as well, or lose ground and potentially the lethal fight.

While war raged within the virtual spaces of the system, the non-virtual entities were mostly untouched. However, during the fight power was lost, environmental systems stopped working, and the nanofabs providing food for millions refused to provide. Only the security measures mandated for that part of space by the nearby Negentropy Alliance saved some of these sophonts from suffocation and starvation.

The conflict lasted for several weeks real time, and left the virtual landscape uninhabitable by lower toposophics, the operation systems and computronium interfaces twisted and scorched into a state which no modosophont software could run on. SLI and Scarlet finally managed to destroy each other, taking every infomorph along in eir death throes. Scarlet's final effort enabled power to some few of the nanofabs. Eir action allowed for scattered pockets of survivors across the system, but massive casualties still occured from starvation, suffocation, and environmental problems. Once the die-off stabilized, only 40,000 embodied sophonts remained alive in the system.

Unfortunately, their problems were far from over. Many had gone mad from the trauma, and dysfunctional memes spread through various pockets of survivors. Lack of repair knowledge doomed other knots of survivors, while others were merely unlucky. Most survivors were further handicapped with malfunctioning net-access implants leading to cognitive static, corrupted experience & memory banks, and often a wasting of the ability to differentiate between virtually-induced hallucinations and the physical world. This mental crippling threatened each of the groups of survivors, who had by now formed tribal-style local governments.

Those few who had, for one reason or another, avoided having their minds corrupted by their implants slowly found together and managed to cobble together a single high tech society, scavenging the surrounding megastructures for spare parts and new devices. The rest of the survivors fell into cargo-cult worship of the few functional nanofabs.

Harkingtons Star Joins the Seams

At length the Version war came to an end, and the Seams were formed. A passing Negentropic probe had noted the state of the system in 4634. Since it was in need of reconstruction, control of the system was passed to the Burdikeer. The great natural resources of the system probably is what spurred the Burdikeer to use it as one of the founding systems, from which the wormhole net was spread far and wide. Several weylforges were created in the system, solar collectors repaired and new once created, and starlifting re-initiated. Wormholes were sent out, and in 4718 the system was connected to Delta Star (then called Hyperan). In 4759 the system was opened for the general public.

By this time, the damaged survivors of the collapse had been gathered into a single fully-repaired megastructure by the Burdikeer's Neumann systems. The free scavengers, however, adapted to the new circumstances and even thrived. Since the Burdikeer's Neumanns seemed to have paid little interest to the needs of the scavengers, they had simply made their own way, tapping abandoned solar collectors, skimming resources from the starlifting operation and becoming generally parasitic on the megastructures around the system; the scavengers showed great skill and adaptability . So great indeed, that fully 80% of the people who moved to the system in the early years joined the scavenger culture.

The remaining 20% set up their own solar collectors, and earned their resources with honest old-fashioned work. These soon gained the nickname Fourshoes. Throughout the early years the Scavengers and Fourshoes held a pretty constant disdain for each other, the Fourshoes regarding the scavengers as lazy lowlifes and the scavengers regarding the fourshoes as lowbrowed slowminds.

In 5184 the opposite terminus of a wormhole reached Blue, leading to a small stream of colonists passing through the system for the other side, but this didn't affect society in any major way. As time passed by, the pioneer Fourshoes' habitats grew and a mercantile culture developed based on the virtues of truth, trustworthiness and hard work. Meanwhile the Scavengers integrated their structures more into the Burdikeer's megastructures, and refined their working methods. Many of the scavengers uploaded themselves because of the lower requirements for energy and resources. Using mechanical rental bodies it was easy for those who wished to maintain a ril job, and as time went by the lines between virtual and vec became very liquid.

The Scavenger-Zenthist War

Then in 5830 Ykarro of Kiberia arrived from the Sophic Seams, and set up his House of Enlightenment in the Fourshoe hab-cloud of Lagrange 7. Ykarro preached a mix of Solarism, Buddhism and Poverant Meritism which he called Zenthism. The belief system struck an instant cord in the hearts of most of the Fourshoe population. Ykarro disappeared without a trace less than three months after his arrival, but despite this his Zenthism continued to soar, gaining new preachers and followers at an almost exponential rate, culminating with the formation of the Harkington Zenocracy, a polity dedicated to the truths of Zenthism, only five months after the religion was introduced to the system. One of the first points on the Zenocracy's agenda was the closure of the system's star gates to give the isolation required for enlightenment.

Amongst researchers the rise of Zenthism in more than five-dozen systems across the Negentropic-Keter border is considered a textbook example of a well-performed memetic attack with what may have been an attack sophmeme. How the attack went undiscovered until its late stages is hotly debated among historians and commentators. However, it is widely agreed amongst such experts that the Seams were never in danger, since the Seams' memetic immune system were amply capable of handling the attack without transapient intervention.

In Harkington the Scavengers opposed the Zenthists as soon as their agenda was revealed. The Scavengers' lifestyle depended entirely on the Burdikeer, and they would do their best to oppose any closure of the system's wormholes. The Scavengers tried negotiating with the Zenthists, however at the beginning of 5831 it became clear that the Zenthists were not only willing to leave the wormholes be, but were preparing a sabotage of the wormhole to Hyperan. In response the Scavengers built a small fleet of insystem fighters using warseed templates downloaded from the known net, preparing to use force to dissolve the Zenocracy if necessary. The Scavengers gave the Zenthists two months to cease and desist, after which they would be forced to intervene. The first month was used by the Zenthists to begin building their own fleet, and despite the Scavengers' superior sources of resources, the Zenthists were beginning to catch up.

The Scavenger leadership discovered this threat and reduced the time to only three more days. This caused discontent among zenthist sympathizers among the Scavengers. While the Zenthists didn't directly respond during these three days, zenthist sympathisers rioted throughout the Scavenger habs leading to infrastructure damage, and more casualties than any in the system since the great die-off..

The reduced deadline approached, and passed without any public Zenthist response. Still backed by the majority of their people, the Scavenger leadership ordered attacks on Zenthist strongholds. the fighters were launched, and over the next two months such notable battles as the Battle of Zen Hub, the Great Run, and the Enlightenment Hab Scrabble occurred. In the end, the Scavengers managed to account for all the publicly-declared Zenthist forces and quarantine the remaining Zenthist habs. Three days after the last defense ship was destroyed, the Zenthists started suiciding by destroying their own habs. Two days later, no Zenthists remained alive.

Zenthist sympathizers continued to trouble the Scavengers' home habs. One such group managed to detonate a nuclear device in the Jenton hab. Despite the best efforts of the Scavenger leadership, further bombs were detonated in the Nyborg and Enernon habitats within two weeks. The Scavengers realized their informal parliamentary cyberdemocracy was unable to react fast enough to such internal threats. In response, they turned to the hero of the Great Run, Hindadmiral Brons, granting him full dictatorial powers as a temporary measure during the difficulties.

Brons efficiently took control over the scavenger military and domestic forces, and quickly formed a plan of action. The day after he accepted the mantle of leadership, he put various military commanders in overall control of the habitats as administrators, and announced the introduction of curfew, temporary dispensation of the Bill of Sentient Rights, and various other emergency measures. Over the next few days many of the zenthist sympathisers were caught as they tried continuing their efforts despite the security measures in place. These captives were incarcerated in the still functional sections of the Nyborg hab.

Some few Zensymps - those smarter or luckier than their compatriots - remained free and continued their terror. Brons maintained his dictatorial powers to ensure these dissenters would cause as little damage as possible. Thanks to his efficient and prudent security rules, many sabotage and bombing attempts were prevented and more Zensymps captured.

Brons' successes eventually lead to his greatest difficulty. Few citizens saw more than an arrested suspect or claims of aborted sabotage, but no successful attacks occurred some 5 weeks after his assumption of power. As time went by, a growing number of citizens felt that Brons no longer had any right to retain power, having stopped the Zensymps. The organizations that Brons had created were never used on law-abiding citizens, but the possibility that they might worried many.

As one month became several, some citizens decided that Brons needed to be removed from power and the cyberdemocracy reinstalled. This underground movement started conducting their own attacks, these targeted on the government and law-enforcement. The Democrats was a far larger force than the Zensymps and thanks to sympathisers and members in various places were able to conduct a higher rate of successful attacks than the Zensymps. Brons turned his forces on the Democrats as well, seeing them as just another face of the Zensymps, however while he had been able to keep the Zensymps isolated and slowly weed them out, the Democrats were a much hardier force, used to working under the eyes of the law-enforcement, and with many sympathisers willing to step in whenever a Democrat was caught. As time went by, the Democrats came to replace the Zensymps entirely, with the last few Zensymps being absorbed into the Democrat networks.

During the last nine centuries of Brons rule, the conflict between the Democrat terrorists and IntSec forces had glided mostly into the background for the average citizen. Once in a while a Democrat attack against the authorities disrupted services, but the Democrat main body was painfully careful not to hurt civilians. On more than one occasion they had tracked down groups with less morals and revealed their identities to IntSec. However, it seems that Brons continued to believe to the day of his death that the Democrats were another Zensymp manifestation, and that the establishment of a cyberdemocracy was only a veil, behind which they would destroy the present civilisation.

The System is Renamed Alpha Star

In 6824 Brons and all his backups were destroyed in a digital and physical multipronged attack by the Democrats. His place was taken by his only sixty years younger son Marent. Marent continued his father's policy against the Democrats, though it is believed this was to maintain the current balance of power, and not because he thought them a Zensymp manifestation. During the next two millennia Marent left most IntSec problems to that organisation's leaders and instead concentrated on developing Harkington domestically, economically and territorially. In 6973 Marent convinced first Hyperan to join the Harkington polity for economic benefit and in 7313 the Fir-lang Confederacy, consisting of the Firion and Long Lang systems, joined Marent for protection against the expanding Twinborg Metaempire. In 7400 Marent moved the seat of government to Firion, and the year after finally declared that he were seizing permanent control of the government, and named the four-system polity the A2 NeoMonarchy. Harkington's Star was renamed Alpha Star, Hyperan renamed Delta Star, Firion renamed Null Star, and Long Lang renamed Beta Star.

Marent's declaration provoked a wave of attacks from the Democrats, but though the freedom fighters succeeded in many of their attacks in Alpha Star, they had no success in other systems, largely due to control points set up in the intersystem routers by IntSec. From his distant position, Marent continued expanding the polity against the threat from the Twinborg Metaempire, until his assassination by Twinborg operatives in 8879. His digitally produced heir Horan took over the crown.

Since Marent moved the seat of government from Alpha Star to Null Star, Alpha Star has been largely uninfluential in the policies of the polity as a whole. The many computronium-filled habitats hold a vast amount of virtual citizens engaged in various activities, while non-virtuals and embodied virtuals in the ril world maintain the links to the Burdikeer's megastructures that keep the energy and materials flowing into the system. Below the surface lurk the Democrats, still isolated to this single system, but with activities going on everywhere. The IntSec forces that combat them seem to be ever present, monitoring conversations, inspecting space vessels, and sometimes making people disappear. Though the virchs of Null Star and Beta Star usually provide the interface to the virtual presence of the A2 NeoMonarchy, it is the vast servers of Alpha Star that really keep the wheels running around.

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Development Notes
Text by Thorbørn Steen
Initially published on 13 December 2006.