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Proxima Centauri (Alpha Centauri C) - History

The closest star to Sol - an Historical Overview

Lif -current era
Image from The Astronomer
Lif in the Current Era has been ecoformed to create a non-standard life-bearing environment
For more details about the Proxima Centauri system, see this page.

History

Table of Contents: History

386 - 701: The Nauri
701 - 703: The Great Circle
703 - 938: The Proxima Civilization
938 - 1695: New Visitors
1695 - 2227: The Centauri Vehicle
2080 - 3000: Early Sephirotic Presence on Lif and Lifthrasir
4335 - 4500: The First Venus Exodus
4500 - 4700: Proxima during the Version War
6757 - 6770: Proxima in the Third Nauri Dispute
9000 - 9500: The Second Venus Exodus
9500 - 10600: The Current Era

The Nauri

Proxima is the distant third member of the Alpha Centauri system. Its status as the closest star to Solsys made it one of the first systems to be visited by interstellar probes. However, the system was ill-fitted for colonization by humans due to the high radiation environment, and therefore was ignored by Interplanetary Age human colonization missions. On the other hand, the Naurinume of the Alpha Centauri system saw it as a valuable asset. Since the Class R probe incident in 365 AT which generated unhealthy levels of Sol-scare in the Naurinume community, they had planned to use Proxima as a backup system to potentially reboot the Naurinume civilization should it fall. A member of the Alpha Centauri star system located some 0.2 light-years away, it was an ideal location for this purpose.

Several Nauri probes were launched from Toliman between 380 and 400. Following a 5-year cruise, the Nauri neumanns scouted the system, before setting up a number of industrial plants fed by materials extracted from the inner asteroid belt. Gradually, the modules - mostly power collectors, processor nodes, and communication beam platforms - were launched towards the star. Next, a group of neumanns departed for the inner planets, where they constructed more computronium banks for backups under the surface, protected from the environment by the atmosphere and a thick layer of regolith. The surplus energy produced from this star was allocated to various activities, including interstellar colonization; Proxima's interstellar boostbeams, located at Skoll, was involved in the SCR 1845−6357 colonization project in the 520s.

The Great Circle

After the last probe mission which passed by the star in 207, no known Sol probe or colony ship would enter the Proxima system until much later. In 683, a single GAIA arkship entirely crewed by uploads from the Asteroid Belt and Jupiter, dubbed the Great Circle, was sent towards Alpha Circini. To reach one of the most distant destinations of its time, the ship was accelerated to the cruising speed of 0.3c, likely becoming the fastest colony ship prior to the First Federation period. Unfortunately, the ship collided with a particularly large grain of dust shortly after reaching the cruising speed, devastating its front shield. The crew realized that the damage was too great, and another impact of a similar scale would turn the ship into a cloud of debris that would zip past Alpha Circini at nearly one-third of the speed of light 182 years later. Two options were available to them: either to hope that no more debris crossed their ship's path or to redirect the ship towards the nearest star in their way: Proxima. That Proxima was already occupied by the Nauri was a widely known fact even after the Technocalypse and the uploads were fearful of this alien, potentially erratic, and maybe even hostile machine civilization, but nobody aboard the ship could deny that continuing onwards to Alpha Circini was as risky, if not even more. After much debate, the crew decided to take the latter option, and began diverting their ship towards the red dwarf star.

The Great Circle finished its final deceleration phase in 701, before heading to an icy object in the outer asteroid belt of the Proxima system where they could extract resources to repair the ship. Through long-range observations, they deduced that the rest of the Proxima system had at least some Nauri presence; the inner system was heavily industrialized, densely populated, and bustling with activity. Beyond the resource-depleted inner asteroid belt, the outer system was less densely populated. There were many large Nauri communities around Skoll, but the two outermost worlds, Hati and Fenrir, had only a handful of small settlements in their environs. Having learned this, the uploads were unsure about their next course of action, but one thing was clear: continuing their journey to Alpha Circini was out of the question. Unable to even construct a boostbeam to assist their trip towards other destinations without potentially provoking the inhabitants and having an increasing number of passengers voting to stay rather than leave, it was safe to say that another interstellar travel was off the table. Sol was radio-silent; they were on their own, stuck in a system with an ahuman civilization they knew little about. The crew soon arrive at the conclusion that diplomacy is their only remaining sensible option.

The Solsys uploads first sent a transmission towards what appeared to be the Nauri's transmission receivers in order to introduce themselves and state the purpose of their visit. Following a month of eerie silence, the Nauri's reply came, to the relief of those aboard the arkship, in the form of a comprehensible, non-hostile message. It seemed that the community of the Proxima Nauri also felt uneasy having a Solsys ship in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri, but they felt no need to be over paranoid and would be happy to form agreements and possibly trade. In 703, the Nauri sent a delegation to negotiate with the colonists of the Great Circle. Due to safety concerns, the negotiation took place on a newly constructed habitat known as the Raghaishan habitat, the design of which incorporated features from every culture represented in the Solsys uploads' group.

The negotiation, made possible by a small Nauri faction known as the Pith Hive, whose expertise in tribe mind software proved invaluable to overcoming significant barriers in mental architectures between the Nauri and the Solsys uploads, concluded several months later; the Solsys uploads would share to the neumanns softwares which improve control over the ability to self-modify during their replication in exchange for the right to utilize the icy belt and Fenrir; while the Nauri would continue to retain their right to use them, the uploads would be permitted to inhabit and extract their resources. The Nauri took great caution in the testing of the software. Once, tension broke out between the Nauri and the Solsys uploads due to a glitch in programming which caused the test subject to act erratically. Fortunately, Nauri investigations revealed that the incident was caused by an innocuous translation error and programming incompatibility. With collaboration from both sides, the individual was safely restored and the bugs were ironed out.

The Proxima Civilization

Over the next few hundred years, the two civilizations continued to coexist. As decades rolled by without a major diplomatic incident, the initial fear and mistrust gradually faded away. In 784, the uploads successfully negotiated freedom of movement within the outer system, allowing Solsys colonists to move inwards and setting up their own communities on Skoll and Hati. Despite this, most Solsys uploads were content with inhabiting the outer belt, and contact between the two groups was still limited.

The Solsys uploads - now starting to identify themselves as the Outer Proxima culture - were developing a common identity. Chan Buddhism, originally adhered to by a subset of the Jovians, spread to the rest of the population during the eighth century. Its rise was expected; right after arrival, one of the passengers had shared eir own retrospective view on the failure of their mission. E believed the blame laid on their own hubris; they had sacrificed their shielding mass to attain faster speeds in an attempt to reach one of the farthest destinations. Getting stuck on the closest star to Solsys was the price they had paid. This view became popular among the now disillusioned colonists, and one of Buddhism's tenets fit this view. The century concluded with the practice of the creation of various recreational virchworlds, in particular, virtual zen gardens for relaxation and meditation, coming in vogue. At first, the outer Proxima people kept these virches to themselves, but virch trade with the Nauri took off in the 840s. Reception from the Nauri was generally positive; while the meaning of these virches was lost on them, the neumanns appeared to enjoy them as well. In return, the Nauri gave the outer Proxima people interesting bits of their own culture and curios they traded with other civilizations - both humans and ahumans.

Through contact and exchange of information, the Inner and the Outer Proxima system cultures became closer. The reverse was true beyond the red dwarf's astrosphere; apart from the Nauri colonies at Alpha Centauri and Luhman 16, which never directly contacted the outer Proxima civilization anyway, there was virtually no contact between them and the rest of the universe before the First Federation. This allowed the outer Proxima civilization to evolve in its own direction. Inspired by the teachings of Chan Buddhism, which emphasized meditation, and the solipsistic tendency of the Nauri, many uploads began to spend more time in their virtual zen gardens, simply meditating and pondering about the meaning of existence. One by one, the outer Proxima inhabitants retreated into their own virtual worlds and slowly became solipsists themselves. In their place, a group of uploads (mostly non-religious) volunteered to act as watchers, responding to any incoming contact - Proxima Nauri or anyone else.


The Ananas
Image from Steve Bowers
The Ananas

New Visitors

Proxima was the very first star to receive the declaration of the First Federation, although it wasn't interested in joining the Solsys-centric civilization. The Nauri did not respond, while the outer Proxima politely declined, although both civilizations did not oppose the idea of the system being visited, and indeed the system did receive a number of travelers over the next few centuries.

Only a handful of Federation and Eridan ships visited Proxima during the First Federation period. The first visitor was the Ananas, which made a 20-year stop in the outer system between 1050 and 1070. The outer system watchers were the first to reply, responding to the Ananas' transmission with a warm welcome message, but there was no other response; the Nauri in the inner system was disinterested, and the rest of the outer Proxima uploads were too busy meditating to pay attention. During their stop at the Fajarnkom habitat, the ship studied the Proxima system and its cultures in detail, as well as trading various artifacts, recreational software, and virches with the watchers. Some of these items were eventually traded to the virtual meditators who were interested, enriching the outer Proxima civilization with knowledge and culture of the First Federation, and perhaps directly causing a cultural shift that encouraged the meditators to interact more with the ril. The Ananas was also influenced by the outer Proxima cultures; a significant fraction of the crew of the Ananas converted to Buddhism during or after the stay, including Benedita Dacosta, better known later on as Benedita Blue Sky.

The next visitor, the transapient ship Endeavor-9, was part of the First Federation's bid to mend the relationship between Solsys and Alpha Centauri. Proxima was selected as eir first destination mainly due to two reasons: there had already been a successful contact with the Naurinume at this star, and while close to Alpha Centauri (0.2 light-years), Proxima was distant enough that eir presence there wouldn't alert the neumann civilization. Endeavor-9 first opened communication channels with the Nauri in the Proxima system, who acted as the representatives of the Cenaurinume. After several years of negotiation (and refueling), as per the Nauri's request, the hyperturing departed for Alpha Centauri. E left behind the boostbeam station located at Skoll that e had helped upgrade with First Federation technologies, and announced that it was open for Federation and human beamrider uses. With the announcement came several beamrider ships pioneering the route, including some bionts who made the system their home, including the Kollam Rianths, who settled on Arunachala, a small moon of Hati, but as the initial excitement died down, the system returned to slumber, with cyclers occasionally using it as a stepping stone and little more.

The Centauri Vehicle

In 1695, an Omegist-Buddhist interstellar fleet led by the religious visionary superior hu Boddhichittamaittreya III arrived in the outer Proxima system. After making contact with the locals, e spent time learning about the system while carefully planning eir strategy. In the process, e incorporated the traditional Proxima Chan Buddhism into eir Omegism teachings, giving rise to a synergy that is now known as the Centauri Vehicle Buddhism. Having carefully studied the system's history from the locals, Boddhichittamaittreya III was careful not to promote solipsism; while the Centauri Vehicle received strong influences from the local sect, through careful guidance e was able to instil an anti-solipsism element into the virtual population: the ril and the virch must work hand-in-hand, exchanging insights with other individuals, in order to prepare one's mind for the finality; the ultimate and perfect state of consciousness and existence that is nirvana.

This Buddhist school reached its zenith in Proxima during the 20th century when over 60% of the outer system population became adherents (some Nauri reportedly even converted). During this and the next few centuries, it launched several missionary missions towards nearby pro-human systems such as Sol, Barnard, Sirius, and Tiwa, mostly through the Lightway, but some also went aboard the cyclers, spreading the words of Boddhichittamaittreya III along the Beamrider Network. Boddhichittamaittreya III emself departed Proxima in 2227, aboard a cycler for Solsys, but left behind a number of virtual copies, who played a key part in preventing fracture and internal strife at the end of the golden age. Centauri Vehicle Buddhism would continue to thrive in Proxima thousands of years in the future, but their zenith had already passed.

Early Sephirotic Presence on Lif and Lifthrasir

At the beginning of 2080, the Nauri announced that they were leasing out resource-poor portions of their mining colony of Lif as well as selling access to the ocean world Lifthrasir to any interested group, in exchange for cultural artifacts. Observers had anticipated this shift - although Lif was the primary source of the Nauri's materials, their demand had dramatically dropped decades ago as the construction of the infrastructures completed, and Lifthrasir was already ignored by the neumanns, whose computronium banks find the frigid subsurface oceans of Ask and Embla much more homely. Many of the outer Proxima polities around the outer giant planets responded, exchanging their arts for access to the surface of the two.

By 2200, the surface and the environs of Lif had become inhabited by some 11 factions comprising chiefly of aioids, vecs, and a smaller number of experimental radiation-resistant tweaks, who either carved their homes in the cliffs and canyons created by Nauri mining operations or constructed gigantic arcologies able to contain their entire population. Over the next few hundred years, influenced by both the ancient tradition of the pre-Federation outer Proxima cultures and the mindsets of the Sorority at Lifthrasir, the nations of Lif would begin to design and cultivate gardens of minimal ecosystems for recreational purposes.

The right to develop Lifthrasir was purchased by a subgroup of the Sorority of the Gardeners of the Golden Worlds, a Venus-based semi-religious organization promoting research and development of the creation of biospheres in Cytherean environments. The organization found the flooded, but otherwise Venus-like environment interesting, and so they began experimenting on the creation of lifeforms suited to the environment found there. The Sorority also sponsored the Lif nations' development of ecologies suited to their arid, acidic environment. Their preferred epithet, 'the Golden Sisters', evolved into the Proxima people's affectionate exonym for all Venusian tweaks, especially those hailing from Venus itself, regardless of their actual gender.

For much of the first half of the third millennium, the colonization of environs of both Lif and Lifthrasir was spearheaded by aioids and vecs, who were less bothered by the intense radiation, with bionts lagging behind, often limiting themselves to L2 points, staying in the shadow of the planets to avoid host of problems that come with radiation. Proposals to create Lagrange magshields in front of the two planets were discussed as early as 2102. The Sorority agreed to the plan, but only for a limited amount of time, reasoning that their planet's unique environment would be destabilized by the lack of atmosphere loss. Most nations of Lif, while disagreeing on details, were receptive to the idea. As radiation protection and resistance technologies improved, the magshield at Lifthrasir was disassembled, but Lif's remained. Beginning in the 25th century, several habitats with biont-friendly environments can be found in orbits not occupied by the computronium banks and vec complexes or at risk of collision with the skyhooks and the launch loops.

The First Venus Exodus

In the aftermath of the shooting war between the Venusian tweaks and the sky dwellers at Venus, the Solsys Organization, appalled by both factions' actions, issued an ultimatum; rewrite their behavior or be expelled from Solsys. Most groups begrudgingly accepted the rewrite, but several groups rejected and promptly left Solsys. Although not a belligerent itself, the Sorority of the Gardeners of the Golden Worlds split into two factions - one that supported the rewrite, and one that did not. The latter decided to leave Solsys for Proxima, where they had set up a branch that became considerably influential, bringing with them a number of Venusian tweaks.

Although the organization condemned their violent tendency, the Proxima Sorority was sympathetic to these Venusian tweaks, and, in exchange for their own version of rehabilitation, offered some of their test tube habitats at Proxima-Lifthrasir L2, which the system community had nicknamed 'Will of the Golden Sisters', some containing ecosystems, for their inhabitation. The groups who declined the offer departed for other regions in the Proxima system. In either case, most of these migrants would stay, becoming integrated into the system community in the upcoming millennia.

Unlike Solsys Organization's, the behavioral correction program that the Proxima Sorority offered to the Venusian tweaks did not tamper with their ideology. The result was the rise of anti-terraformation mindsets in the Will of the Golden Sister habitats and Lifthrasir as a whole, which had an outsized influence on the rest of the system community. For example, it briefly stunned the slow transformation of Lif into a Vitriolic world, and swayed the votes in favor of the Cytherean environment proposal for the fourth and the seventh layer of the Hati supraplanetary shells. The virch entertainments created by the Venusian tweaks, who had replaced their violent tendency with harmless satirism, also became popular among inhabitants of several polities in the system over the next few hundred years.

The beginning of the shift in Lif's gardening culture which saw conversion of airtight gardens to open ones happened at roughly the same time as the arrival of the exodus wave, but the two events are not related. This shift marked the slow origin of the creation of Lif's biosphere.

Skoll and the Enlightenment Ring
Image from Steve Bowers
Skoll and the Enlightenment Band

Proxima during the Version War

Neither Alpha Centauri nor Proxima saw any fighting during the Version War as none of the Sephirotic powers were keen on making more enemies, especially one that could easily pave way for an escalation into a conflict between metacivilizations. Even if the Sephirotic polities within the system found themselves on different sides of the war, none of them possessed any real physical weapons they could lob at each other, thanks to the agreement that banned any Sephirotic polity from possessing any weapon that has potential to damage their structures. In addition, the overseer transapient ensured that absolutely no violence took place in eir domains.

One interesting consequence of this 'protection' was the refugees who flocked from a number of nearby systems to Proxima to escape violence. Most Inner Sphere Sephirotic systems, including Ran (Epsilon Eridani) and Gatlida (Epsilon Indi), were controlled by multiple empires and factions, and there was no telling whether or not they would join the fray at a later date. Others, like Akela (Wolf 359) and Luliwa (Gliese 440), were not sufficiently protected to ensure that no warships would bother them, and indeed many of them found themselves targeted. This temporarily caused the system's Sephirotic population to swell from 11 billion to 24 billion.

For a brief moment, Proxima essentially became a meeting point for these disparate cultures and the local cultures, whose reactions range from disinterest, to great excitement, to outright annoyance. Exchange of cultures and ideas intensified thanks to proximity, leading to a blooming of new developments for both sides. For example, many of the highly complex traditions of several nations in the Enlightenment Band can be traced back to those practiced by aioid refugees from the Akela system. A significant fraction of megastructures in the Proxima system were inspired by ideas acquired during this period - including the Ring of Mirror of Questionable Quality at Proxima-Lif L2.

As the war activities in the Inner Sphere declined, many of the refugees happily departed for their homes, but some cultures (or copies of the refugees who left the system) chose to stay in the Proxima system, and, like the Venusian tweaks, become part of the Proxima community.

Nauri 3
Image from Juan Ochoa
A Nauri neumann vec individual

Proxima in the Third Nauri Dispute

The Third Nauri Dispute, the only major Nauri Dispute conflict where combat spilled into neutral Nauri territories, caused a major disturbance within the Proxima system. In 6757, enemy ships launched from Nauri systems in the Diamond Network struck both Alpha Centauri and Proxima. The threat posed by these warships and their military cybermalware forced the Sephirotic population to temporarily evacuate from their home. Most were sent to Luhman 16, another neutral Nauri system which was not a major target, but a number of them requested to be sent to other stars. Many of them would not return after the battle.

Cliotelescopy revealed that the damage was rather extensive, and many Sephirotic habitats were damaged or destroyed as a side effect of the war. The wave of destruction was over as quickly as it came, and the crashcaches tucked away throughout the system activated soon after. The confirmation of the activation of the first Lightway receiver stations and databanks merely a year later allowed the inhabitants to beam back to the system, and the system reverted to normalcy by 6770. The impact on the societies of Proxima was rather muted; although the pacifist inhabitants were annoyed by the sudden attack that cost them ten years, there was little they could do to prevent it.

The Second Venus Exodus

The Second Venus Exodus was triggered by the planet's highly controversial terraformation project. There were two major groups on Venus; the ground dwellers and the sky dwellers. Many of the sky dwellers supported the terraformation, although they disagree on which environmental proposal to proceed with. Most ground dwellers opposed the terraformation project, but they also had a lot of infighting in regard to how they should handle their world. The rest of the Solsys, in particular the massive conservative population of Saturn, favored the idea of the transformation of Venus' environment into a replica of Earth. This proposal won a landslide victory in 8977 despite the locals' protests, marking the beginning of the exodus.

As the environment on their homeworld became increasingly hostile, the Venusians were given options reminiscent of the First Venus Exodus - to adopt body templates and lifestyles compatible with the Earthlike environment, or abandon their world. The Solsys Organization compensated for those who picked the second choice by offering a number of Venus-like worlds in the Inner Sphere and the Middle Regions - the offer which, according to several Venusian groups, showed how little the Solsys community really cared about the issue. Many of the ground dwellers and even some of the sky dwellers would find solace in the Proxima system, where their mindset ran strong thanks to the Proxima Sorority, which by this time had evolved into House Mey Aurulai, as well as the presence of two planets, Lif and Lifthrasir, where environments resemble proposals (Vitriolic and Tohulian, respectively) that they found more appealing. As a result, the system would, once again, see a massive increase in immigration, although this time spread out over the first half of the 10th millennium.

Following the recommendations of the House, these Venusian immigrants replaced their anger with mockery, promptly reviving the Golden Sister satirism from the First Venus Exodus era. The Venusians gave rise to their own take of the subculture, with a distinct taste in humor and noticeably more passion when ridiculing the Solsys Organization and its community, which they had grown to despise even more intensely.

Current Era

Proxima is a major destination for tourists to the Innermost Inner Sphere; for many tourists this is as close to Solsys and Old Earth that many of them ever get. The culture of Satirism among the displaced Venusian diaspora has evolved into a general enthusiasm for all forms of humour, including exotic comedy originating from many exotic sources such as xenosophonts and ahuman AIs throughout the Orion Spur.

Tourism by members of the Nauri diaspora is also commonplace; populations of Nauri can be found in many locations towards the Carina Extension, and significant numbers of Nauri-derived sophonts visit Proxima and Cenaurinume to reconnect with their ancient roots.

 
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Development Notes
Text by The Astronomer
from an original article by M. Alan Kazlev and John M. Dollan
Initially published on 19 December 2001.

 
 
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