Ultimates, The

Ancient Xenosophonts with advanced biotechnology that inhabit the Black Acropolis

Phylum Cynosur (an Ultimate)
Image from Steve Bowers
An Ultimate of Phylum Cynosur; these inhabit a dry, warm environment, and generally prefer modular biotech that resembles organic utility sand

The Ultimates were one of the earliest xenosophont races to be encountered by Terragens, in 4001, though due to the circumstances of their discovery they remained little known within the Terragen Sphere for over a thousand years. The Terragen name for this species group, 'The Ultimates', is a translation of the original term, which may be translated more literally as 'That Which Cannot Be Surpassed' (in the sense that their gengineering and bionanotech have reached an optimal level and further changes would be destabilizing).

Ultimates in their several varieties were discovered inside the so-called Black Acropolis dyson swarm, which was built by an even older and apparently extinct xenosophont race about 14.8 million years ago. The civilisation which created the Ultimates has left no other traces in the Terragen Sphere, and in fact may have arrived in a long-distance exploration probe which targeted the Acropolis from far outside the Terragen Sphere. For many years the Ultimates were believed to have been created by an unknown faction of Terragens, probably transapient in nature, but this appears not to have been the case.

The Ultimates were first contacted by an expedition of relativistic space adapted human colonists seeking to escape hyperturing dominance and establish their own civilization out in what was then the Periphery. By this time the Ultimates had become a cocooned culture that had lost their expansionistic desire. Some of the more adventurous Ultimates joined the humans and the other terragen clades that arrived in the following centuries to form the now transcended Gerkletoss civilisation. The remaining Ultimates isolated themselves in a number of biospheres, refusing to have anything to do with these crude barbaric newcomers. Some of the Ultimates who joined with the humans were later to populate a number of other star systems.

The Ultimates have a DNA-analog chemical complex which can mutate quite easily, but mutations almost always quickly degrade with hybridization. The result is that viable mutations are almost vanishingly rare, so the phenotypes of the different Ultimate phyla appear to have remained more-or-less unchanged for well over a million years. This trait is almost certainly the result of genetic engineering that occurred in the early history of their civilisation. It is quite possible, even likely, that none of the many different phyla resemble the original race that first created them. They communicate through pheromones, chromatopores, and complex body signals. Their bionanotech is quite sophisticated, but they lack any of the technologies developed by transapient entities.

Not only is the biotech of the Ultimates even more advanced than that of the Genen, but the tech from one clade is also incomprehensible to another clade, due to the different styles that evolved in isolation. Consider a plant/coral-based biotechnology in contrast to an insectile, mollusc-based or mammalian technology. Each Ultimate clade or phyle likes to approach and solve roughly the same problem in utterly different ways. A house might be a hollow tree, a chitinous cocoon or a mobile cone of fur. A computer might be much more different, and when one moves to the specialties of the different technologies the designs can be totally different. A sessile-style biotech, such as preferred by the Phylum Phyttinu (Lineage B), often involves having huge areas covered with plant-devices producing nutrient and controlling the environment, whilst the molluscan biotech used by Phylum Mhohrr usually involves the use of swarms of small beings doing jobs, whilst the mammalian biotech developed by Phylum GiiBuna adds social capabilities to all devices...

The Ultimates seem to be the remnants of a very ancient nomadic civilization, and retain the skills to construct large amat powered biotech worldships that move at no more than 0.1 c. Certain Ultimate clades have become integrated with the greater Terragen culture, often by forming a synthesis such as the Gerkeltoss civilisation which has spread out from the Black Acropolis in generation ships constructed by the Ultimates.

The so-called Ddgvko Culture is based on a symbiosis between MetaAllelle 5c Ultimates and the Vedokiklek.


312 Million standard years BT - The Tkzeph build the original dyson swarm, then mysteriously vanish, and the swarm falls into ruin.

16 Million Years BT - The Black Acropolis Civilisation emerges, possibly from Tzkeph biotech, and builds the existing structure.

14.8 million years BT - The Black Acropolis Civilisation is wiped out, apparently by the enigmatic Dawn Hunters.

1.2 million years BT - The Ultimates are introduced into several of the biospheres by another enigmatic civilisation: after a short period of expansion they settle into a static society

35,000 BT - The "Great Reformation", an attempt by the Ultimates of the Shining Path Morph to revive the morphospecies, institutes a brief renaissance, and a period of colonisation ("The Seeding") of nearby worlds.

~20,400 BT - The last of the Ultimate Colonies ("Fruits") disappear. In the sheltered biospheres of the Black Acropolis the descendants of the Shining Path Morph have once long ossified into a self-cocooned equilibrium state.

~10,000 BT - The cocooned Ultimates are slowly diminishing in numbers.

4701 AT - A clade of heterodox dolphin colonists from Hwii arrive at the Black Acropolis habitats, fleeing the rigidity and conservatism of Okeanism.

4723 - The dolphins are joined by an expedition of Space Adapted Humans. The Dolphins and SAH contact the Ultimates. The Ultimates are fascinated by, but also wary of, the AIs, being biologicals they have never developed sentient nonorganic aioids. Ultimates schism into two factions, one pro-contact and the other isolationist and cocoonist. The pro-contacts see this a great opportunity for the revival of the race. But even the pro-contact, neo-reformationist and neo-expansionist Ultimates see the terragen humans as crude revolting barbarians. An uneasy relationship develops between the three factions.

4780 - The so-called Terran-Ultimate Discord, the most serious of the "cold wars" between Terragens and Ultimates, is resolved peacefully after long mediation by both sides.

4806 - Election of the radical reactionary baseline and anthropist philosopher, demagogue, and leader Jonn Sarhvant causes a schism among the near-baselines. Those that are more sympathetic to the dolphs, ultimates, and SynBios secede from the main body to form Universal Nation.

4809 - The "Acropolis Accord" between the space adapted humans and the neodolphins panics the anthropist baseline humans.

4813 - Under Sarhvant the Noble Human Army attacks the alliance of space adapted humans and dolphs for ownership of the coveted Delta Six Level A Biospheres - a brief but bloody episode which leaves heavy casualties on both sides. The Universal Nation lends support to the dolphs and spacers. Further disquiet among the Ultimates at this show of Terragen violence. Tensions escalate.

4815 - The so-called Habitat War. Sarhvant's faction of expansionist near-baselines with the help of their AIs and nanotech initiate a well-planned blitzkrieg against the Ultimate-spacer-neodolphin-universalist alliance and gain ownership of the whole of Sectors Delta and Epsilon. They are eventually stopped by Ultimate bionanites, and lose many of their territorial gains.

4816 - A coup overthrows Sarhvant, who is placed under house arrest. Sarhvantism is declared illegal in the near-baseline habitats.

4821 - The Cold Peace.

4845 - The rise to power and public office of the great neodolphin pacifist and statesbeing Wide Blue Waters (who centuries later was to be mythologised as the most recent avatar of the Great One Cosmic Ocean of later Tipusa religion) does much to lay the groundwork for peaceful relations between the clades.

4848 - Feeling isolated and keen to impress the other clades, the near-baselines drag the elderly Jonn Sarhvant out of house arrest and try him under the laws of the New Copernicus Convention for crimes against mindkind.

4852 - The New Thaw

4855 - Universal Nation expands to include the majority of near-baselines.

4868- The remaining anthropist baselines and Sarhvant sympathisers, fearing persecution, leave in a relativistric ship for the Sagittarius arm. They are never heard from again.

4886- Fresh from his second rejuve treatment, Wide Blue Waters pushes through the the Lambda 2 Convention, ratified by representatives of all the species. Despite some territorial grumblings, relationships continue to improve between the clades.

4920 - Elements of The SynBios, a synclade of human, dolphin, and neo-reformist Ultimate that developed in the early decades of the Glorious Communion in the Black Acropolis habitats, sets forth to colonise further star systems.

4937 - Signing of the Gerkletoss Accord.

5768 - The Gerkletoss system is re-connected to the Wormhole Nexus.

6420 - The AI part of the Gerkletoss civilisation rebels against the constraints on their development, beginning fast autoevolution. Massive use of exotic matter and spacetime engineering leaves the region extremely dangerous. A number of refugees flee to nearby star-systems in Ultimate-designed generation ships.

8693 - Human and dolphin refugees from the Gerkletoss rebellion/transcendence arrive at Skiiws'nnii and begin the terraformation of that world.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev
modified by Stephen Inniss and Steve Bowers
Initially published on 11 October 2002.