The Battle of Ross; GAIA's autonomous drones attack the artificial iceberg strongholds of the loyalists in the now-mostly ice-free Ross Sea
Following GAIA's ultimatum declaring the "Great Expulsion" in 621 A.T. a brutal seven year war between shifting coalitions of GAIA's supporters, Treaty Org loyalists, various regional blocs, transnational factions, and local populations broke out on Earth and in Earth's orbital habitats. The Last War officially ended in 628 A.T. when the Treaty Org moved its seat of government to Zeno Base on Luna, however sporadic attacks continued for another decade until the removal of the vast majority of Terragens from Earth.
Background: The Solar System
On the eve of GAIA's Great Expulsion and the start of the Last War the Solar System had been struggling against the Technocalypse for eight decades. The inner solar system was completely ravaged by the swarms and infoplagues, and though the outer solar system avoided the full force of this destructive event it was now as a rule reduced to scattered populations barely subsisting. Exact statistics for casualties experienced in the preceding eight decades are difficult to come by, and are often contradictory.
The surface settlements of Mercury had been destroyed by rogue neumanns, and only the Joh-Lau culture, hidden in their subterranean dwellings, survived the destruction. Venus's floating habitats were decimated, and although many still remained operational, in another century the planet would be completely abandoned. Luna had fared much better than other inner system worlds and was now bearing the burden of housing refugees fleeing other dying worlds and habitats. Mars's blue goo defenses were completely overwhelmed with great loss of life and infrastructure. Throughout the inner system, habitat clusters were extremely susceptible to the swarms and sustained high casualty rates. Many states and political organizations failed to adapt and by the end of the 6th Century A.T. the once powerful Cis-lunar Alliance and even the Inner Council itself had ceased to function.
The situation wasn't quite as bleak in the outer system. The colonies and independent polities around Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune had suffered comparatively minor direct damage from the Technocalypse and were jockeying amongst themselves for hegemony. The numerous minor communities in the Main Asteroid Belt, Trojan Asteroids, Kuiper Belt, and Oort Cloud had a mixed success rate. Fiercely independent and individualistic several thrived, however many others slowly wasted away, and some abruptly vanished due to accident or destruction by the Technocalypse.
Earth, the origin of all terragenkind, had been seriously compromised by the ongoing catastrophe. In 621 A.T. the entire planet was under the protection of GAIA, a sapient AI, and controlled by the Treaty Org. Earth's population had become highly urbanized, with 90% of the population living behind the shielding of arcologies and metropolises. In the early 7th Century A.T. the planet was experiencing a very strong population growth rate, the kind not seen since the century after World War II. This course of action was fueled by rhetoric from various religious sects and political movements and led to a massive youth bulge in many polities. In most cities and arcologies the percentage of the population below 30 years old was between 40%-75%. With large segments of the public feeling disenfranchised, being denied the chance for social success or the means to attain it, the Treaty Org faced increasing populist movements with overtones of regionalism and pro-humanism. The Technocalypse enormously impaired the envirotech systems that had greatly reduced the effects of global warming over the last few centuries leading many to fear a return to the "Hot House Earth" of the late 22nd century C.E.
The intention of this population boom was to replace casualties from the eight decades of the Technocalypse and restore the overall demographic distribution prior to the outbreak. Over the previous centuries the convergence of several factors (including the increase in average human life span, increased availability of education for women, and the choice of alternative fertility options) lead to a general trend of a focus on having smaller families that were started later in life throughout most cultures. Governments understood they had to increase social acceptance for procreation and raising of children. Some historians (notably the Negentropist school of Socioectropy) have questioned the cause for this preoccupation, and theorize it may have been an institutionalized form of political fear mongering rather than an actual risk of extinction. Public relation campaigns centered on memorable slogans campaigns included "True Patriots of Earth have Two Kids" and "Babies: They`re our only Future". Strong ethnoreligious identification, related to the upsurge of conservative purist religious movements, and clade identification, associated with post-biopunk subcultures, also provided ideological pressure for certain minority groups to reproduce.
The GAIA Conglomerate (Global Artificial Intelligence Array) was founded fourteen years before the Technocalypse in 528 A.T. to establish an efficient global nanoimmune system originally designed to fight the proliferation of nano/bio-terrorism. GAIA had started out as a fairly simple but very distributed and powerful superturing, but clandestinely became a first singularityhyperturing at an unknown date some time during the early stages of the defense process. While the Council of Earth and the Treaty Org were unaware of her breaching a singularity barrier, archival evidence indicates other transapients at the time had identified her as a peer.
In the struggle to contain the plagues (physical and digital) GAIA evidently began to identify with the planet she was protecting. She constructed and activated a world-wide system of primitive biogeocomputers, linked to the biosphere itself. Another part of the defenses GAIA managed was blue goo to inoculate organisms and entire ecosystems. It was the standard practice of the Treaty Org military that service members would receive blue goo immunizations against potential threats before going on active duty.
During this time GAIA, transcended and became the first Second Singularity transapient in terragen history. She kept secret her new transcendence, and may not have fully recognized the extent of her own capacity or else employed self-restraint. She began expanding beyond her primary role of nanodefense into additional projects, integrating herself into other of Earth's systems. As a result, the Treaty Org became increasingly dependent on GAIA not just for defenses but also to implement economic planning. One example of her development that caught the attention of contemporary transapients was that GAIA held a near monopoly on the remaining amat farms.
Background: The Treaty Org
A few years after the start of the Technocalypse the Treaty Org was formed by willing members of the Council of Earth to enforce the disaster mitigation Second Caracas Treaty of 543 A.T. The Treaty Org was governed solely by humans (and a few other modosophont clades), but depended on what they believed to be superturing AIs for consultation and supervision of different complex systems. The Treaty Org humans were not aware of the hyperturing nature of these AIs, instead viewing them as particularly effective and creative superturing AIs. A small number of theorists did suspect these entities were true transapients, but without any evidence besides lab simulations and conjecture for support it would remain a fringe theory until verified later in the Dark Ages.
In order to bring rogue technology under control, over the next half century the Treaty Org increasingly dominated regions by persuasion, coercion and invasion. Several regions were unwilling to comply with the full extent of the Caracas Treaty, and starting with the California Republic in 573 A.T. the Treaty Org used swarm-surveillance to monitor "suspected regions". By the start of the 7th century A.T. the Council of Earth was utterly defunct and the Treaty Org was the de facto, if not necessarily de jure, Earth government. In 589 A.T., the Treaty Org adopted GAIA protocols and technology as the official defense standard. Begrudgingly, even the regions that resented the strong-arming tactics used to hold the treaty together, acknowledged the success GAIA was having against the technological plagues, further suppressing open talk of secession.
A year before the Great Expulsion the Earth-Moon-Lagrange region was declared free of hostile technoplagues even though large portions of the Earth's surface remained off limits and inhospitable. However, this was an increasingly optimistic time. Even before the clearance declaration the Treaty Org had moved its physical headquarters to Nova Roma. The Treaty Org believed that their leadership had secured the birthplace of mankind. With continued operation of GAIA, they would establish a new golden era for all of terragenkind and their position of power would remain secure. They began erecting new arcologies and Lofstrom Loops and upgrading the existing space elevators. This was done under GAIA's directions, with the plan of developing infrastructure to increase industrial and transportation capacities for the return of displaced refugees. This ostentatiousness belied the true reality of GAIA's motivations for these megastructure projects.
"Papa says there will be a big announcement tomorrow at the New Year's celebration. He thinks the Treaty Org is finally ready to welcome everyone back home to Earth. I hope he's right." --Personal journal entry of Hana Mori "It has been determined that humanity and the myriad descended intelligences are no longer relevant to the Earth's future." --Excerpt from the Great Expulsion announcement
The Last War started on 2400 UTC 24 Faraday 621 A.T. (31 December 2589 C.E.) when GAIA released an unexpected worldwide announcement that would later become known as the Great Expulsion. The main body of the Great Expulsion announcement, addressed to the inhabitants of Earth, listed a series of grievances GAIA had and concluded with an ultimatum for them to leave Earth. Evidence cited for the inescapable destructive nature of terragenkind towards the environment was the megafauna die-off in the Quaternary extinction event, nuclear weapons testing, the Great Dying, climate change, and the plagues. Immediately after releasing the announcement GAIA began taking direct control of planetary defensives, communication network, megastructures, and population centers. Historians now generally agree that GAIA chose this time to act in order to take advantage of the brief downtime in a number of critical Treaty Org security systems during the adjustment for leap seconds, allowing GAIA to take control while avoiding activation of automatic defensive measures.
Moments after the announcement of the Great Expulsion, the Treaty Org leadership made an initial public statement on the situation. It denied the validity of GAIA's authorship of the Great Expulsion, and presented fabricated evidence pointing to the perpetration of a hoax by expert hackers. The Treaty Org, believed this was a standard attempt to disrupt their systems, and tried to calm the public reaction to the announcement by playing it down. Internally the Treaty Org leaders were gravely concerned about the unfolding situation, recognizing a serious breach of network security had occurred and that numerous systems were being locked out.
With only a few minutes to review the situation, transapient AI benefactors of the Treaty Org recognized they were dealing with a rogue transapient, and assumed it was either manipulating or masquerading as GAIA. Again, the existence of transingularity beings was not public knowledge at this time in history, so the Treaty Org AIs supplied a counterattack to regain control, but at the same time kept the full reality of their conclusions to themselves. The transapient AIs of the Treaty Org knew this attack protocol had previously proven effective against both ahuman and solipsist transapient attempts to infiltrate Earth's network. Within minutes of the original announcement the Treaty Org launched a comprehensive cyber-offensive to purge this opponent and crack locked out crucial systems.
While indeed suitable for a S1 level threat, this attack was insufficient against GAIA's post-S1 abilities; she rebuffed even this advanced strike.
Following the unprecedented failure of this offensive, transapients aligned with the Treaty Org regrouped to calculate their next move. To preserve the costly infrastructure the Treaty Org next tried to physically sever the connection and jam all wireless communications. GAIA had already deactivated these installed fail-secure devices, and so the Treaty Org was forced to send in crews to disable the affected installations manually. GAIA having taken over the communication network saw to it that none of these operatives arrived at their intended destinations.
After seeing their finest technologies and specialists failing to contain the situation this threat, the Treaty Org grew increasingly desperate. Adopting a brute strength approach, the Treaty Org military tried to physically destroy GAIA's known installations with overwhelming force. They sent in covert operation commandoes armed with ACER rounds and launched bunker penetrating tactical nuclear warheads. GAIA, monitoring all communications, foresaw this potential threat even before the commands were given and was able to stop most strikes in the preparatory stage. The forces arrayed against GAIA were thwarted with a combination of corrupted intel and extremely high rates of equipment failure. However, a few tamperproof warheads using quantum encryption were forced to detonate prematurely, irradiating large swaths of the Australian Outback and portions of the Kamchatka and Alaska Peninsulas. Once again GAIA easily survived these attacks.
During the ongoing series of offensives the general public witnessed only glimpses of the fight. Many services were inaccessible or disrupted throughout the day as the Treaty Org threw up firewalls and GAIA took control of systems. Also, the government put in place a general curfew, a demand not made in previous hacking attempts. This wasn't the first time some group had tried to disrupt the Treaty Org. The public knew to stay out of the way and allow the authorities to handle the immediate situation, and in a short time they expected everything would be back up and running. As the day wore on news reports made the general public aware of the escalating strikes but not the extent. The isolation of populations from each other and the lack of reliable information helped foment rumors. Only in the following weeks, when GAIA had consolidated her power, and the situation had calmed down enough that she allowed for more communication would a clearer picture be presented for the public.
It is presumed by the actions that followed by the end of the first day, GAIA had come to the realization that these continued attacks separately pose a small but real existential threat to her continued survival. She must have concluded some mortality was acceptable in order to neutralize or eliminate the remaining danger from Earth's military forces. GAIA began a targeted shutoff of blue goo resulting in a near simultaneous worldwide incapacitation of most military personnel. The shutdown was far from uniform with human physiology reacting differently according to the types of blue goo in use. Reports began flooding in describing victims suffering from coma, induced sleep, total paralysis, massive nausea, migraines, and syncope. There are anecdotal accounts of the shutdown not affecting individuals at all for one reason or another, and a rare number had their involuntary muscles, involved in circulation and digestion, stopped. Many affected individuals were in the middle of performing important tasks (driving vehicles and operating machinery) when the blue goo shutoff happened, and so died as a side effect or caused resulting casualties. This influx of patients and the semi-random appearance of symptoms overwhelmed medical and emergency services across the globe, and contributed to the confusion and panic in the general population igniting the spread of civil unrest.
Very few of Earth's military installations escaped the reach of GAIA. Those not under her direct control were often older systems running independent of the network, using incompatible or unconventional programming, and considered to have little or no strategic value. Various S1 transapients were able to temporarily protect a small quantity of military systems from GAIA, however once she redirected her focus even these were quickly brought under her control. A number of weapon and equipment caches had been forgotten or abandoned in the eight decades since the start of the Technocalypse, and would play an important part in the extended resistance against GAIA and her supporters.
Without a formal military to counter her will, GAIA took control of all major population centers and megastructures on Earth. By the second day, the first volunteers took up GAIA's offer and left Earth for orbiting habitats. After the multiple failures of the first day, the S1 transapients recognized that GAIA was not just another rogue AI of their rank, but had transcended to a new level. Even with this additional information the transapient AIs could not find consensus about what the next step should be and began splintering into likeminded groups. These divisions quickly unraveled the Treaty Org, with AI factions consolidating their power around polities receptive to their political and ideological alignments. The Treaty Org was now functioning as a government in exile.
The first major faction of AIs favored capitulating to GAIA and assisting in her plans, in the hope of minimizing casualties and improving the overall chances of survival. The other major faction of AIs calculated that all was not lost, and when GAIA was eventually restrained again the centralized structure of the Treaty Org remained the best choice of governance moving forward. Outside of these two main camps were AIs who disagreed with these stances towards GAIA, but still thought that cooperation was essential to negotiating with GAIA, this group formed several transnational and regional organizations. Some like the Californian acrologies of Alta California, Las Angeles, Mexicali, Sacramento, and Tijuana banded together to improve bargaining position for negotiation of resources and to improve the living standards their citizens would have when they left Earth. Remaining were unaligned AIs who considered local governments to be best situated for voicing and dealing with demands of the populace. Examples like Buenos Aires and the surrounding La Plata province remained proudly independent in the hopes of avoiding being drawn into petty regional disputes.
`This evening a public disturbance was detected on Melbourne Avenue. Residents are reminded that civil disorder will not be tolerated. Police have now been authorized to use what ever force necessary to enforce the curfew currently in effect.' --Public Announcement Canberra `Scripture tell us my faithful listeners we can never serve two masters. Just as Jesus announced `I did not come to bring peace, but a sword', we too must be Warriors of God to carry out his will. God has directed us to cull the heathen followers of this self-stylized pagan goddess in order to prove our rightful place in these End Times.' -- Preacher Evan Theoman's closing remarks from a radiocast
In the ensuing days after the Great Expulsion announcement rioting and looting became widespread as the global situation, with the high casualties sustained and unraveling of the Treaty Org, became widely known. Local law enforcement agencies were kept busy by anarchist and nihilist elements taking advantage of the chaos. Escalation in rhetoric by all sides coupled with a drop in confidence with authorities led to inciting individuals to action, indicated by a steep rise in suicide attacks and sabotage. With police forces preoccupied by these mounting problems other individuals and groups, without ideological provocation, chose to settle long established feuds. Participants in this violence tended to skew towards younger demographic brackets, with an average age estimated to be just 20 years old. Non-lethal crowd control technology was nearly ubiquitous, but presented with an unprecedented global social crisis many law enforcers lacked the coordination or training to use this equipment properly on a large scale and fell back to relying on more lethal means of maintaining the peace. The majority of civilian and paramilitary casualties occurred in these first weeks as contending mobs, unauthorized militias (colloquially known as posses), and authorized peacekeepers clashed.
As the violence in the immediate aftermath of the Great Expulsion died down and local authorities had once again regained control a new phase in the Last War began. The first waves of violence featured spontaneous acts, this new wave of attacks was often state sponsored. Allegations of preferential treatment, usually unfair distribution of critical resources or different living conditions for refugees, created distrust between polities. These feelings were fed by old grudges and complaints that had resurfaced. Other polities searched for a scapegoat to direct the anger and fear of the public. Often these accusations were aimed at local ethnoreligious minority populations and new non-baseline human clades. State sponsored attacks against these suspected enemies, both internal and external, continued for the entirety of the war.
In the meanwhile, unable to directly confront GAIA, the remaining Treaty Org loyalists directed by their AI patrons, sought retaliation by targeting individuals and regimes that were collaborating with GAIA. They started to use the uncovered weapon caches for sporadic attacks, resulting in a series of high profile assassination and terrorist incidents. The coordination of these attacks proved difficult, GAIA's ability to discern complex patterns and monitoring of most forms of communication meant the insurrectionist had to continually use novel and alternative methods to avoid her. New forms of communication relying on distant relays outside of GAIA's control were often used, but were supplemented by primitive forms like amateur radio and even carrier pigeons. The continuing difficulties of communicating and needs for changing tactics meant this was an ineffective mean to carry on a war effort.
Gradually more and more isolated Treaty Org units instead chose to undertake extortion, blackmail, kidnappings, and smuggling of contraband.
After GAIA had secured herself from existential threats in the opening phase of the Last War, she behaved with indifference to direct management of events. Instead she authorized proxies to act on her decisions and ensure the Great Expulsion stayed on track. Historians and archaiologists have pointed out that this refusal to guarantee victory by GAIA extended the war by years, and many theories have formed to rationalize this course of action. GAIA's focus appears to have shifted to the situation arising after the Great Expulsion inevitably finished. She concentrated on other diverse projects of interest from the design and construction of orbital habitat, bubble habitats and arkships to the near total dismantling traces of humanity, continued maintenance of the planetary nanoimmune system, lazurogenics efforts, and ecosystem reconstruction. While GAIA rarely interacted with modosophonts, there are surviving reports that she persisted in targeting more provocative transapients for subsumption or outright elimination.
Of immediate concern for GAIA's supporters was to consolidate their control and bring everyone under AI authority. They relied on diplomacy and force to make sure GAIA's deadlines for the Great Expulsion were met. Many of her supporters acted to reduce unnecessary conflicts or remove the more confrontational components of the resistance. The population of Earth already mostly lived in urbanized areas, but a minority continued living in small communities or on homesteads. Many of these groups practiced different forms of libertarianism or anarchism, and belonged to the wider Backyarder movement. Faced with choosing to come under the rule of GAIA or siding with another authoritarian faction some volunteered to be relocated off world in exchange for initial assistance in setting up as Haloers. Others groups refused to move and insisted in remaining by entrenching themselves. Realizing they would not willingly follow the requests of GAIA, her supporters began a number of physical confrontations. The largest of these was the eight month long Battle of Ross, part of the successful operation to relocate all inhabitants of Antarctica.
The Last War was not confined to the surface of Earth, but spilled over into the surrounding outer space. A common policy was for refugee habitats to be segregated along allegiances to reduce the likelihood of violent outbreak. Even with these guidelines in place internal social stresses made occasional conflicts unavoidable. One of the most mysterious incidents of the entire war was the loss early on of the L5 uploading center, which responsibility for remains unsolved. While never the official strategy of any outer solar system polity, a few factions of Titanites and Genetekkers voiced the belief that a divided and weakened Earth was good for gaining a competitive edge. These groups took unilateral moves to extend the conflict by a variety of methods that included smuggling incompatible blue goo, importation of weapons, providing logistic supports, and establishing communication relays to bounce signals. In fact most polities in the outer solar system along with the Lunar authorities were deeply disturbed by the escalating war and actively sought to contain it to planetside. Other organizations and polities witnessed the developing humanitarian crisis and either sent charitable aid to alleviate the plight of refugees or tried to act as intermediaries to mediate an end to the war.
At the level of modosophonts the Last War is often portrayed in terms of resistance and insurgency, S1 transapients describe the situation very differently. Their goals, while nuanced, were not so much to form an effective resistance against GAIA but to avoid subsumption by demonstrating their continued relevance. The AIs tried to present GAIA with a situation where she would be better off leaving them in place as independent agents than if she were to either subsume them into her consciousness or eliminate them from existence. However the exact path to engineer this situation was what caused the disagreement and division of the AIs involved. Throughout the war, transapients fought to position themselves for resources and to create a feasible pecking order for an organized exodus of Earth. A few transapients were indeed interested in the condition of their modosophont wards; other transapients merely saw them as assets to help gain their final objective.
Late in 628 A.T. a breakthrough agreement arose between GAIA and various transapients. It has been described to modosophonts as a type of quid pro quo, in return for limited access to S2 technologies and guarantees by GAIA to acknowledge their right to survive the S1 transapients would no longer support resistance of the Great Expulsion and henceforth would not intervene in GAIA's plans for Earth. Following this truce the Treaty Org moved its seat of government to Zeno Base on Luna. With the Treaty Org out of the pictures other factions either rejoined the Treaty Org to gain the benefits of this truce or else formed their own agreements with GAIA. By the end of 628 A.T. most belligerents involved in the Last War had finalized treaties with GAIA and there were no longer official state sanctioned hostilities, indicating the end of the Last War. While the Great Expulsion didn't conclude until 640 A.T., without the support of transapient AIs to coordinate and organize, the next decade saw continued but decreasing rate of erratic attacks on Earth by modosophonts. The Treaty Org, presenting itself as the united voice of Earth's refugees, now focused on "the moon wars" a series of resource and territory wars fought against the native Selenians.
Fertile the plains between two wide rivers, never again will eyes view these treasures. --Opening couplet of Lay of the Last Iowan
The influence of the Great Expulsion and the Last War were wide felt, and continues to shape the collective psyche of terragens.
The conclusion of the Last War touched off a centuries long migration period in the Solar System. Accompanied by the decline of trade and diplomacy amongst surviving polities this marked the Dark Ages of the Solar System. Not until the early First Federation era did society recover to its former complexity.
In the interplanetary era Earth and Mars contained the most developed biospheres. The loss of both in a matter of decades left many in the solar system with a reason renewed interest in biotism, in order to make up for this void.
After the Last War, for the first time in Terragen history, the majority of the Solar System's population did not live on a planet. Instead the majority resided in space habitats, floating bubble habitats, or on planetoids. This shift in perception of these habitats from substandard choices to acceptance as the normal condition persists into the modern era with only a minority of terragens choosing to live on terrestrial planets. GAIA's actions created suspicions towards all transapients in many individuals, and countless hider clades trace their foundation to these events. This response is contrasted by other populations gaining trust in transapients, due to the assistance given by various S1 transapients throughout the Last War. This trust created the groundwork for the eventual rise of the First Federation.
The Last War resulted in an unknown number of casualties, but estimates run into the high hundreds of millions. Despite numerous queries to GAIA the final status of many individuals is still unknown. There have been a number of theories that the Goddess of Earth upload these individuals for different purposes. Several dozen S1 transapients were directly subsumed by GAIA and close to a dozen more went offline with no further contact. This was the first case of serial subsumption made public, and helped to raise awareness of this type of activity in the general public.
Questions still remain over GAIA's complacency with developing events. A higher toposophic entity normally has the capacity to influence to a high degree a conflict amongst lower toposophic level individuals. Many conspiracy theories have arisen that posit GAIA had ulterior motives for allowing the war to go on as long as she did. Often these diverge as to why GAIA acted the way she did. Hypothesized motives range from the mundane reason she was actually following a predicted optimal course of action to the convoluted motive of propping up a shadow government of Freemasons and xenosophonts. Defenders of her actions point out that while an S2, she was dealing with a tumultuous situation with potentially hostile S1 factions. There is speculation that GAIA may not be the first S2 entity in terragen history, she was just the first to survive long enough to make the necessary moves to secure her existence.
Text by Mark Ryherd Initially published on 17 February 2011.
Developers Note: Upon discovering the atrocities that were committed during the Last War and the Great Expulsion many Encyclopedia Galactica readers are shocked and outraged. Some have difficulties reconciling the course of events GAIA was responsible for with the fact that she still remains in control of Earth. All Encyclopedia Galactica readers should remember the following facts as they explore this subject. First, these events happened roughly ten thousand years ago. Very few individuals have survived into the modern era are first hand witnesses to these events, even fewer have kept any emotional connection to these events. Presently GAIA is an S4, having undergone two transcensions since these events, and has been a stable if somewhat aloof entity for thousands of years. GAIA has long since been surpassed by the Great Archailects who despite the capacity and opportunity to retaliate against her have instead chosen to keep the status quo. These facts are not meant to be justifications for GAIA's actions, they are simply meant to demonstrate the proper context that mainstream Terragen civilization currently views them in.