Benedita Blue Sky (Benedita Dacosta)

Long-lived bioxox paraterraformer (949 to recent, various copies)

Benedita Blue Sky
Image from Bernd Helfert

The Ganymede explorer ship Ananas on its way to Alpha Centauri A was diverted in 1040 to Proxima when it became apparent that the Toliman system had been taken over by non-communicative and potentially dangerous Neumann replicators.

Finding refuge and support in the Proxima Oort belt habitats, the Ananas stayed for twenty years, while the stock of Amat for propulsion was replenished using stellar gliding energy collectors. Some of the cargo of zygotes was exchanged for anti- AI defence soft/hardware developed by the local belters. The Proxima colony was predominantly Buddhist at this date, and the ecology officer on board the Ananas, Benedita Dacosta, was converted to the faith during this stop-over.

Leaving in 1067 the Ananas set off for Epsilon Indi, on arrival exchanging zygotes, Solsys and Proximan technology with the hospitable colony of Ganesha for local commodities and supplies. Ganesha had established links with the rest of the Eridanus league and recently, directly with the First Federation. Perhaps the most important transfer was of crew, as a number of Ganeshans and even some top level Corporate Settlers took the opportunity to join the Ganymedian crew with their nanotech based life extension, some becoming neobuddhist like Dacosta.

The Ananas next arrived at Darwin in 1265, and Dacosta saw for the first time an earth-like world. Born in 949 a.t. in Perrine Regio, she had studied ecology in sim and never seen Earth, never stood under a limitless blue sky and breathed free air. She found an inspiration or enlightenment that all human-derived beings should be allowed to take strength from this infinite blue, however achieved. She and her followers adopted this inspiration into the brand of Buddhism they had developed since Ganesha over the 90-year flight, and she changed her name to Benedita Blue Sky.

Several Novan and Birnam Ecotech ships were also in orbit around Darwin. The situation was unstable, with the Darwinists suspicious of the Ecotechs, and the Mediacorps stirring things up. The Followers of Benedita became aligned with the Birnam faction, and were instrumental in stabilising the conflict with their pacifistic advice. The Blue sky adherents left ten years later to spread the word to nearby worlds, taking with them several Birnam converts. Their ship was a NovaMedia-sponsored vessel called the Update, and NovaMedia representatives went with them in the hope they could get good publicity and newsworthy material from the trip.

In 1401 the Blue Sky adherents arrived at Xujiahui dome on p Eridani Bb III, and with the expert help of the Birnam contingent a huge overdome was established, which eventually covered the entire moon's surface. Benedita continually improved her skills and experience during this time, and augmented her capabilities to high Superior status. In this way Novamedia gained a valuable foothold in Eridanus space, and sponsored a second expedition in the Update to spread the word.

The Update arrived at HR 637 in 1599, and contacted the local eccentric Clade Sesha, who were tweak-cyborgs affiliated to the Doran Empire of red dwarf colonies. They mostly lived on moons of the inner brown dwarf companion in artificial domes and airtight cities, with stellar energy collection and flare amelioration technology. Benedita persuaded them to set up a blue sky dome on one moon, and when this was popular the frozen moons of HR 637 c were all enclosed in skyblue nanotech impermeable membranes which allowed the melting of the water ice and creation of maintainable earthlike atmospheres. The culture of the Sesha, who had tiny bodies, which were fitted into humanoid or serpentine cyberbodies when needed, was of ingrained hospitality, while amongst themselves the arrival of the Sect and the Mediacorps had privately caused great political upheaval, which they kept hidden through politeness and inscrutability.

Travelling through the Doran Empire for the next eight hundred years, the Blue sky sect went from red dwarf to red dwarf, spreading the Skyblue memeticity and the Proximan anti-AI software. Crossing into the territory of the rival Hidalgo Emergent Order they were received with less hospitality, managing to establish only one blue sky world at GL268.3 before arriving at Castor in 2470 just as the Technorapture Hypernation were being connected to the Wormhole nexus.

Finding the malfunctioning thousand year old cyberbodies of the sect inappropriate for such interesting visitors, the Hypernation made them new, up to date ones. Benedita Blue Sky was given at least four incarnations, or Bioxoxes as the Nation labelled them. The Bluesky Bioxoxes proceeded to spread the word throughout the Nexus, and finally made contact again in 8002 when one copy ascended to become Lady Mondegrin/oncehuman, caretaker goddess for the planet Kammerer.

The Blue sky Bioxoxes

The ever-expanding sphere of Terragen space includes upwards of five million sun-like stars, but approximately 500 million red dwarf systems. Even with biocopying and virtual simulation presence the fraction of these stars that have been visited and paraterraformed by Benedita Bluesky herself is vanishingly small. However she has become a figure of respect from some quarters and hatred from others. Setting off from the six sun system Castor in 2601 in the TRHN ship Complicated Shadows all four Bluesky bioxoxes and many of her rebodied long-time followers came to Pollux, where they went off into the Wormhole Nexus in various directions to spread their form of neobuddhist sky worship.

AlephBenedita Bluesky set off, with most of the ex Birnam Ecotech people, to 31 Geminorum, or Conver Ky as it was now known. The Sainted Avatar Voss Culver-of-Bydovsky saw the paraterraforming process and spiritual uplift of her doctrine as desirable, and adapted it into his own orthodoxy, which was bad news for several relativistic ice adapted and titanian extremophile clades that were now being overtaken in the Hyades by the aggressive Conver Ambi. In all her incarnations she observed non-violence and self-effacement, but often her followers and patrons did not. When the breakup of the Conver Ambi came, the extremophile adapts were among the most fanatical rebels against the Geminga Orthodoxy. AlephBenedita was saved only by the intervention of her heavily geneered ex-lover BethMichio Ee, an ex-Birnam employee.

Taken prisoner to Xi Ursae Majoris A-II (Fons Luminis), AlephBenedita propounded her doctrine to The Sun Emperor, who rejected worldroofs in his 3938 Statement on Vision, saying that they obscured the stellar sunlight. However he allowed AlephBenedita and Ee to develop and terraform many proto gaian worlds at the edge of his vast empire using their thousands of years of experience in atmospheric science, all the while evidently taking a paternalistic care that there were no extremophile clade adapts disrupted or inconvenienced. BethMichio Ee was later killed in the Version war and AlephBenedita then found herself in territory acquired by the NoCoZo.

BethBenedita went from Pollux to the developing Sophic League worlds near Beta Canis Majorem, and found a religious tolerance that allowed her to develop many worlds, and at the same time find respect for different religions and clades. Except in the Stellar Umma region, the Sophic league was cosmopolitan and full of splices and tweaks, and even vecs, representatives of all mindkind. A bluesky world might be accompanied in a system by iceclade, brownsky or Dyson tree worlds. Here too she met with other neobuddhist traditions, and after the Version War she migrated to the Keter Dominion to pursue the possibility of personal ascension.

GimelBenedita travelled to Pardes, and with her companion AlephMichio Ee became Employees after interview by the CEA Lohengrin emself. AlephMichio worked with the biotech worlds in the inner part of the Cygnus expansion direction that became the Zoeific Biopolity. Here he developed the Greensky world, a development of the Dyson Worldtree that incorporated a photosynthetic worldroof.

GimelBenedita developed the red dwarfs throughout the Cygexpa Empire, using green or bluesky technology as decided by company strategy. Over thousands of years she lost her spiritual inspiration, subsuming it to the corporate religion. She also worked together with the extremophile clades to diversify the habitats available for the increasing Cygexpa population, thus avoiding conflict with the tweaks in this empire.

However all Cyborg clades were expelled from Biopolity space in 3400 and they often moved into Cygexpa systems already occupied by greensky worlds, causing friction and sometimes bloodshed. A number of greensky worlds were hit by kinetic missiles, which were targeted by the laser defence system but still hit the worldroof as vapour and caused a large breach which could not heal, so the atmosphere escaped in a worldwide hurricane that lasted decades till the atmosphere reached a new low pressure equilibrium. Survival in these conditions was difficult but not impossible. After the Version War some displaced extremophile clades with grudges against paraterraforming came into the Cygnus Expansion direction and started attacking Bluesky worlds as well, and though they were excluded by Lohengrin's seraphim, GimelBenedita resigned and emigrated to the NoCoZo expansion to counterspinwise.

DalethBenedita began to work in the Ophiuchus expansion direction, outside the Local Bubble and in that part of Loop 1 that became Mutual Progress Association space. The MPA did not care about her spiritual message particularly, but set her to work, terraforming and paraterraforming as possible as the frontier moved corewards.

A severe conflict arose in 3499 over a large chondritic world known as Ribblehead, rich in carbon and aluminium but depleted in iron. The venusian tweaks, Clade Leda and the titanian adapts, the Methanoids both claimed the planet, but the Bluesky sect muscled in and seeded it with nanobacilli and poikilotrophs (carelessly infecting and killing some tweak survey teams). DalethBenedita was not present when this atrocity was committed.

The Bluesky terraformers proceeded to extract carbon compounds out of the atmosphere with scoopships to be used for infrastructure and industry in orbit. The world was terraformed by 4800. Ribblehead has the largest land area of any neogaian world in MPA space, with carbonic acid seas and rocks rich in calcite, blodite, diamond, graphite and dolomite as well as siderite, but an earthlike gravity due to the planet's low density.

This was a great loss to both extremophile camps (though mainly due to their own vacillation), and a campaign of terrorism and sabotage started, flaring up over thousands of years despite the efficient integration of tweak clades into the Progress ideology. This culminated in 9311 when the new Banks Orbital near Sadalmelik in Aquarius was destroyed during construction, apparently by overriding the active matter control in the ring floor. DalethBenedita was killed, with two hundred million other bluesky processors and vecs.

In the NoCoZo both GimelBenedita and AlephBenedita tried to integrate their vision with the rights of extremophiles and cyborgs. This the Invisible Hand (if E exists) apparently encouraged with thousands of years of relatively peaceful development on the frontier in the direction of the old constellation Argo, as the bioxoxes and their followers engineered earthlike environments for baselines, uplifts and splices. In 7065 a coalition of extremophile tweaks led by a gas giant adapted clade called The Premacy demanded that two thirds of all new planets discovered be designated for use by adapted races, and this was reluctantly agreed by the Processing Company after a number of incidents involving "accidental" flaring in brown dwarfs near Bluesky worlds.

The xenosophont world Kammerer with its hyperintelligent ecology was discovered in 7981 by AlephBenedita herself in the Carina Rush. She sent sentient virch messages to the two remaining Xoxes and to AlephMichio Ee inviting them to a Far Edge Party at Kammerer in 10000 a.t. to celebrate the millennium, and decide how to best protect the isolationistic xenotransapient envome that lived on this world. What happened at the Far Edge Party is of course the stuff of legend.

Image from Bernd Helfert

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 19 June 2002.