Canberra Orbital

Communion of Worlds megastructure used for training empath arbitrators

Canberra Orbital
Image from Steve Bowers

Star: HIP 2254
Distance from Sol: 348 ly
Luminosity: 0.988 x Sol

Megastructure: Canberra Orbital
Orbit: 0.99 AU
Rotation Period: 1.04 standard days
Radius: 1.8 million km
Width: 32,000 km
Surface Area: 300 billion square kilometers
Surface 'Gravity': 0.9 gees
Allegiance: Communion of Worlds

This system had one large gas giant, Sydney, but no other significant planets; in 6449 the Communion invited megastructure specialists from the MPA to construct a Banks Orbital from the planetoids and asteroids in the inner system. Six hundred years later this object was ready to receive colonists.

The first to inhabit this structure were the Formiros, a society of splices descended from ancient Jovian Genomorphers. The Formiros were 'total' or group empaths, each community bound tightly together with empathic technology so that they formed a variety of group mind, despite the absence of direct neural techlepathic contact. Communion empaths reject the use of direct mind-to-mind mental communication, saying that this pollutes the individuality of the sophonts concerned; instead they rely on mutual understanding, observation and deductive telepathy, communicating with other individuals using verbal and somatic languages, and by anticipating and sympathising with their motives and desires on an intimate level.

Even though each community of Formiros was united by this empathic bond, the various communities were less able or willing to extend this empathy to other groups. To reduce conflict between these groups the Communion hierarchy on nearby Heartland introduced a small population of Arbitrator su-empaths, trained in mediation, negotiation and arbitration. The Arbitrators soon achieved a stable and balanced society on this large and mostly empty structure, and began to seek new challenges.

To provide this challenge, the Arbitrators began to invite new groups of colonists into Canberra Orbital, selecting clades and groupings known to be particularly aggressive or chauvinistic. Populations of carnivorous splices like the Lionmen of Third Def8; a group of Neo-Culverist cyborg fanatics expelled from the Terran Federation; a cadre of ex Genen Fusionists, including a caste of Fighting Body tweaks kept as a military elite force; and a population of large and territorial Goliaths which became established in the savannahs of the Patterson continent. Each of these populations was assigned a separate region of the Orbital, but the territories were often situated on shared continental land-masses, making close contact inevitable and conflict likely.

Canberra Orbital became a training ground for biont Arbitrator empaths, used by the Communion as a continuing demonstration of the efficacy of their sociological and psychological engineering methods. Arbitrators schooled in these difficult conditions were a valuable resource, and found roles as negotiators in many difficult roles throughout the Terragen Sphere. Many clades and individuals who were suspicious of techlepathy and transapient memetic engineering were prepared to accept a high-modosophont su-empath arbitrator as a negotiator or representative in peace talks or in legal disputes.

Sometimes the tendency for an Arbitrator empath to identify with eir target group or individual goes too far, causing them to become partisan or even zealous supporters of their cause. This happened in 8003, when a group of Ratel provolves fell into conflict with the Fusionists on Menzies Terra, a major continental landmass sixty thousand kilometers in length. The Arbitrators assigned to the Ratel group inflamed the situation by insisting on hunting rights in the regions populated by the Fusionists, leading to a ferocious conflict in the hills and plains of that land. Even though the Fusionists declined to deploy their Fighting Body shock troops, the war was long and bloody, even more so when the partisan Arbitrators smuggled cyberweapons from the Neo-Culverist empire to the provolve forces.

Eventually a transapient Empai avatar manifested itself in the war-torn lands, defusing the situation with advanced negotiation skills and (according to some disgruntled inhabitants) the implied threat of god-level intervention; this intervention was seen as a failure by the Communion empaicracy, and the partisan Arbitrators were sent for extensive re-education and re-alignment.

Nevertheless, in the Current Era conflicts on Canberra still arise with some frequency, as new groups of 'difficult' clades and populations arrive; the value of this megastructure as a training ground would be reduced if such conflicts did not occur. On the other hand, after an extended period of living with other groups on the surface of this Orbital, many previously challenging populations have become less problematic, and several have moved on to establish new and successful colonies in the Outer Volumes and Periphery.

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  • Canberra - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth capital of Australia; originally a dull bureaucratic centre, by 3rd to 5th century a respectable University Town called the "Geneva of the South". Like Canaveral, Paris, and a number of other historical sites, was not completely demolished following the Great Expulsion, now a minor pilgrim/tourist waystation, a single small arcology, occasionally staffed by a small number of disinterested Children of Gaia (mostly marsupial rianths) like some of other old culture and university towns. Canberra Orbital is named after this ancient city.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 16 February 2014.