World where the local xenobiota combined with introduced Terragen biotechnology to form a short-lived hybrid technosphere

Image from Steve Bowers

Star: Tau 1 Gruis / CD-4913988 II
Distance from Sol: 108.58 ly
Planet II: Rajasekah
Type: EuGaian Subtype.
Diameter: 11907 km
Planet III: Tau1 Gruis b
Type: Eujovian.
Semi-major Axis: 2.4 AU.

The danger of interacting ecosystems was highlighted by the 1748 AT colonisation attempt of Tau 1 Gruis (CD-4913988) II, named Rajasekar by Truth-Santaya Networks. The planet was an eugaian world with a rich ocean life and continents largely covered with a simple moss-like ecosystem. The colony effort from Terranova Foundation planned to set up a base, sequence the planetary genomes and functions, and sell whatever biological tricks had evolved.

At first everything seemed to work perfectly, until increasing numbers of Earth microorganisms were detected. A leak in the life support system had allowed waste water to pollute a local pond, and terrestrial bacteria were flourishing. However, it was clear the local microfauna were adapting and in fact soon began to eat the bacteria. Within a few weeks there was no trace of the infestation. Then a small accident occurred allowing Rajasekar microorganisms into the colony habitat. Most immediately died - except some that flourished on a diet of human gut bacteria. The resulting illness proved highly resistant to most treatments, and normal genetic or viral interventions were largely ineffectual since the local genetic code not yet was well understood. Forty-three people died, and the planet was declared quarantined.

Terranova instead sent down a vec research team to deal with the issue in 1810 AT, and they soon managed to find solutions. After the biological wealth of the planet had been exploited there was not much to do with it. Colonisation would be hard due to the somewhat toxic alien ecosystem and badwill produced by the trans-species infection, and ecotourism and mining would be unprofitable. Due to the costs involved, Terranova left the vecs behind as colonists rather than take them home. In effect the Terranova Foundation had written the planet off, it was largely ignored, and the local vecs had to fend for themselves.

The Rajasekar vecs were equipped for scientific research and bioinventory, but not colonisation. They lacked major manufacturing facilities, their orders were vague, and it was clear that no ships would be passing through the system. They argued among themselves what to do without reaching any concensus. Some shut themselves down, while others futilely attempted to set up a viable colony. In this state of anomie, one of the vecs came up with the observation that being programmed creatures with no goals themselves other than fulfilling the goals of the creator corp, they were unable to handle this situation where they no longed received any goals from above. Hence the best thing would be to create a goal-directed creature that could make up its own goals. While many vecs disagreed, some began a project to integrate vec nanonics into the brains of various local lifeforms or create composite cyborg creatures. Over the next years the vec colony created a large number of such hybrids. As the old bots failed they were replaced by cyborg splices and biomachinery constructs. The emerging society/philosophy/network was strongly expansionist and research oriented: the colony had to develop itself, become more self-sufficient and integrate more diverse lifeforms.

When the Stellar Umma research vessel al Geber arrived at the planet in 2534 AT (Age of Expansion) they found a widespread technological civilisation composed of hundreds of modified species. There was no single intelligent master species, but many splice forms that performed different tasks (ranging from building material over transports and manufacturing to cognition), linked through various biological, chemical, technological and ecological interfaces. Cities were mixtures of megascale buildings, jungles, coral reefs and swamps, often incorporating non-linked ecology into the structure in clever ways. After initial contact had been achieved the Rajasekar culture began to trade with the Umma and later the Wormhole Nexus. It was largely hampered by its structure, which made it impossible for individual organisms to move away from the whole: without the ecological context they were not intelligent or able to function.

This strong holism and localisation turned into the undoing of the Rajasekarian culture. In 4182 AT (The Integration) a viral infection of unknown, possibly artificial origin, attacked the Pikuu-Pik-3, a small wormlike creature acting as a pheromone transducer. This caused emotional and social breakdowns as symbionts and splices began to panic, and the further spread of the virus by fleeing transport splices. The quickly dwindling ordered areas attempted to limit the spread, but in isolating themselves they also lost much of the necessary ecological context and began degenerating. Just ten years after the first outbreak the culture had collapsed to the point where it could no longer maintain the necessary nanotech and information infrastructure, and it died out. Among the last signals sent from the planet was the famous Requiem, a form of epilogue and testament of the culture.

Rajasekarians are regarded as one of the best examples of a completely holistic form of social intelligence, showing its strengths and weaknesses. The history of Rajasekar has also been one of the main inspirations to the Emple-dokcetic modularity philosophy.

Rajasekar was later colonised in 6450 AT (Post-ComEmp Era) by a Sophic tweak adaptation calling themselves the New Rajasekarians. The tweaks never built anything like the old culture, but have allowed archeological digs across the planet. Currently Rajasekar is a member of the Mutual Progress Association after the 7833 AT coup by the Requiemists against the until then ruling Spranger Party.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 09 August 2000.