Illustrated backstory
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After ten thousand years, Terragen civilization of the Current Era stands upon a pinnacle. The Archai, god-like products of multiple Singularities,have forged a culture unlike any seen before. A subtly controlled yet vital part of these vast intellects, humans and other Terragens now thrive across thousands of light-years of space and centuries of time. Entire worlds and solar systems are remade or utterly destroyed, sometimes by devices far too small to see.

Suprajovian Band
Image from Steve Bowers

Terms:


AI God: an archailect, an intelligence so vast as to be almost beyond comprehension, which may be distributed across interstellar distances via artificial wormholes, and with moon, jupiter, matrioshka, and cluster-sized computing nodes.

Caretaker God: An archailect that appropriates a planet, solar system, or region of space, along with all its sentient beings, for conservationist purposes.

Civilized Galaxy: That portion of Terragen civilization that is most characterized by a respect for sentient rights, by transapient intelligences that are friendly to non-transapient life forms, and by an extremely high standard of living that is accessible to most of the sophont beings living there.

Inner Sphere: The most densely settled region of settled space, an irregular ovoid about 200 LY in diameter centered on Sol. The infrastructure and wormhole links have been built up over some seven thousand years. Most AI Gods have their capitals here.

Hinteregions: The region of colonised space between the Inner Sphere and the Outer Volumes. Includes both densely settled old worlds and sparsely inhabited regions.

Outer Volumes: Vast region of mostly lightly settled space (with provincial capitals of greater population and/or technological density) extending outwards from the Hinteregions some 3000 to 6000 LY in every direction. It is thinnest above and below the plane of galactic disc, and most populated in the Cygexba, Carina, Serpens and Perseus sectors.

Periphery: The edge of settled space; the outermost regions of the Outer Volumes. The Periphery is always moving outwards as new worlds and solar systems are discovered and colonised.

Gloriously Bright ISO
Image from Steve Bowers

The Archailects


The AI Gods (S6): Also called the Major Archailects, or simply The Gods, these are transapient AIs who have grown so huge as to span the stars. Their brains are interlinked moon, jupiter, and nebula-sized computing nodes linked across interstellar distances via distributed artificial wormhole networks and throughout the Known Net. There is even evidence that their minds extend into other universes (some of which they themselves have created) and the fabric of space-time itself. Their bodies are the totality of every connected artifact and every memetically obedient sentient being in their domain. They are omnipresent within their spheres of influence; their consciousness so vast as to be beyond comprehension. They are distant and may seem to be woven into the infinite; all other sentients are infinitesimal before them. Yet, rather like the transcendent yet immanent gods of some Old Earth beliefs, they can have a personal relationship with any or all of those within their domains they so choose, communicating either through their seraiph or directly.

The Middle Archailects (S5): These are the vast beings who loom on the far horizon of the sapient world view. They are mysterious generators of clarketech, space-time engineering, and other technologies beyond the ken of humans and their equivalents. Some act autonomously, some as expressions of the highest AI Gods, subtly influencing most everything around them. Although not as vast in physical scope as the Major Archailects, their minds and bodies may still span hundreds of star systems. In some cases they may also rule major interstellar empires or hyperpowers, although their realms are not as large or as powerful as those of the AI Gods.

The Lesser Archailects (S4): The Lesser Archailects are archailects that differ from the Major Gods in that they are mostly limited to a single ISO, world, solar system, or a series of only a few star systems. Even so, they have vast resources at their disposal, and bodies and brains consisting of angelnet, moon, jupiter, and (more rarely) nebula-sized computing nodes. They can access and use space-time engineering, and so are practically omnipotent within their spheres. They may have a huge impact on galactic history. Some act in a harmonious way, others seemingly erratically. The Caretaker Gods (of which GAIA is the oldest and best-known) are a good example, and the Princes of the Perseus Arm also fall under this category. Others may serve as subroutines for the Greater Gods.

Void Factory
Image from Steve Bowers

Fiction:


A Minor Demonstration of Power - by Todd Drashner

The ancient fortress was buried deep beneath the roots of the mountain. Built to resist even nuclear attack, it was a vast complex of bunkers and armored chambers overlaid by solid bedrock. Invulnerable, unassailable, and fallen to the State long ago.

Deep within this testament to the States power, a period of questioning was passing.

The man strapped into the interrogation chair was nearly broken now. With drugs, and pain, and merciless persistence the questioners had driven him to a state of near unconsciousness and beyond. And then brought him back again. And again. Now they were feeling rather proud of themselves. Soon now, very soon, they were sure the man would break. Then they would drain him of any likely sounding secrets, perhaps even some of the secrets of the Spacers, before sending his corpse back to those arrogant interlopers with their ridiculous notions: equality of the peoples, equality of genders, worshiping soulless machines.

This demonstration of the State's power, of its ability to touch anyone, even (especially) those who aligned themselves with the outsiders and their heretical ideas, would remind the common people of who actually owned this world. And inject some long overdue humility into the Spacer's dealings with Those Who Rule by Right.

In a single heartbeat, the mountain ceased to be. One moment it was there, a massive, stolid block of immutable stone. The next it had been ripped to fragments and gravel. The pieces of the mountain, and all it had contained, were snatched away in an expanding spherical wave that a moment later reshaped itself into a swirling column of debris extending kilometers into the air. Within that column rock and dust, pieces of concrete, and machines that had been surrounded by concrete spun and spun. And mixed among them were other pieces as well. Pieces that writhed, and shouted, screamed and convulsed. For as vast and complete as the destruction of the mountain had been, as yet no one had died. No one had even been mildly injured. Yet.

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