Da'at disaster, The

A failed S:5 Archailect

Melotte 20
Image from Steve Bowers

The Melotte 20 cluster, 600 ly from Sol, was first reached by Solar Dominion exploration craft in 3100. This cluster contains several very bright stars, including Mirfak, also known as Alpha Persei, a class F giant 5000 times as luminous as the Sun. Other bright stars in this large open cluster include Psi Persei, a rapidly rotating Be star, Delta, Epsilon and Iota Persei and more than a hundred others. This cluster was regarded as a prime target due to the large number of giant, post-main sequence stars, as well as several smaller stars which had numerous newly-formed planets of various kinds.

In 3740 the Psi Persei system became home to a S:4 archailect entity from the Solar Dominion who had adopted the name Xihe. At this time the cluster was connected to the Inner Sphere by a major wormhole trunk route as well as several smaller branches, and soon many of the stars within the cluster were connected to each other by a dense local nexus. Xihe was known to specialise in toposophic development, and in particular was interested in the so-far unsuccessful efforts to broach the fifth singularity level.

For more than a thousand years the S:4 archai had been the most toposophically advanced beings in the Terragen Sphere; it was not known if any further singularity levels could be attained, but over time the size and complexity of S:4 minds had been increasing until they had reached the limits of their own capacity. Many S:4 entities were vast and complex minds filling entire planetary systems; but they were conscious of a limit to their own abilities, and that any further increase in complexity would cause their mentation to become bloated and inefficient. A new paradigm of toposophic organisation would be required to fully integrate the minds of beings spanning multiple star-systems.

The Greater Archailect Project

Xihe invited like-minded godlings from several of the emerging archailect-led empires to establish a presence in the Melotte 20 cluster, helping them to become established around several major cluster stars. Mirfak was surrounded by a system-wide processing swarm which became the home for a newly ascended S:4 archailect from the Keter Empire; a similar but smaller swarm was constructed around Delta Persei for a guest archai from the TechnoRapture HyperNation, and another for the Negentropists around Iota. The cluster also included more than twenty young Sun-like stars, and more than a hundred red dwarfs; many of these soon held newly established modosophont colonies loyal to the Solar Dominion, all connected to the local nexus and, via the trunk route at Psi, to the rest of the Terragen Sphere.

Of all the stars in this cluster the swarm around Psi Persei was the densest. Although this star was not the most luminous in the cluster, it was surrounded by a dense disk of material, some of which was left over from the star's formation disk, but mostly consisted of matter ejected by this rapidly spinning star. In this cauldron of material Xihe began her experiments in ascension to the fifth singularity level, assisted by the several S:4 entities that had become established in other nearby systems; one each from Keter, the Negentropy Alliance and the TRHN, and two more Solarist archai from Epsilon and 29 Persei. The Psi system itself became a test bed for different strategies aimed at achieving the first successful ascension to the next level; but it was linked by countless millions of comm-gauge wormholes to the other systems in the cluster, especially to those which were host to archai.

Success is announced

At least two failed experiments were abandoned prematurely, but in 3909 the Melotte 20 research group announced the first successful ascension to the 5th toposophic level. This new entity, which incorporated all the mental phase-space which had once been the archai Xihe and much more besides, adopted the name Da'at, a name drawn from the Sefirot tradition of cyberhermeticism. More than a thousand standard years before this time Sephirotic cybermysticism had emerged as a mystical metaphor for the almost completely elusive nature of the archailects, one of many different metaphysical models used by archaitheologists and commentators.

Da'at announced that E would bring a new age of harmony to the mindkind of the Terragen Sphere, and would start by developing the Melotte 20 cluster into an exemplary paradise that other parts of the Terragen Sphere could emulate. A major cause of strife between S:4 archai and beings of lower toposophic levels had been a failure to understand one another's worldview, a failure which Da'at attributed to imperfect modelling. Although an S:4 archai could model the behaviours and thought processes of entities at S:2 and below with relative ease, the high transapients at the S:3 level were more unpredictable, and often deliberately concealed their motives and actions by using baroquification and misdirection. At this time the Solar Dominion was involved in the long and vicious Conver War, which was at least in part a conflict between transapients and archai. Although this war would not last much longer, ending in victory for the Solarists and their allies, the desire to avoid such futile bloodshed was very strong.

Conflicts and misunderstandings between S:4 archai were also a reason for concern at this time; a significant amount of each archai's processing power was allegedly dedicated to understanding other archai, but this was often inadequate. The new archailect promised to bring a new level of understanding where before there had been confusion and conflict.

The varied archai, transapients and modosophonts of Melotte 20, many of whom came from outside the Solar Dominion and had very different outlooks to one another, were starting to find ways of understanding each other and thereby beginning to build a new mode of existence. This new level of toposophic sophistication was seen as very desirable by other archai, especially the God-Emperor of the Solar Dominion, who began to make arrangements for his own ascension.

Concern Grows

Alarm bells began to ring in archailectology circles when the new paradise created by Da'at was analysed in detail from the outside. Firstly the level of emigration from the cluster dropped to unprecedentedly low levels; this could be explained by the success of the society created by Da'at, but those who did come away from those systems were all modosophont or low transapient, and when their cognitive maps and detailed memories of events within the cluster were examined in minute detail, certain minor discrepancies were detected. A few low-level avatars of the guest archai from Keter and elsewhere made the journey back to their home empires, but these also gave subtly contradictory accounts of the events within the region.

Eventually a consensus of opinion was reached among the archai of the various empires who were watching this experiment from outside; this ascension had been a failure, and the blighted archailect within the cluster had assumed control over the minds and memories of all the beings within, from the lowest presapient to the most complex S:4. In order to do this, the failed archailect was believed to have created a number of simulated parallel realities, and each of Eir subordinates existed as several parallel versions within those simulations. It seemed almost certain that Da'at was choosing which version of reality to implement at any one time, swapping and changing between the alternatives at will in order to get the result E desired. If events in the real world did not accord with Da'at's wishes, E would erase large sections of reality and replace it with the product of a more favourable simulation.

In effect the archailect was suppressing the freedom of action of all Eir subjects by affecting and altering their reality at will. As well as the first fifth toposophic entity, Da'at was the first S:5 transcendence perversity. By 3920 rumours of this fact were circulating widely among the modosophont population of the Terragen Sphere, except in that region directly controlled by the new archailect.

A loose alliance of most of the archailect-led empires and many independent transapient and modosophont polities was formed to somehow dismantle this failed experiment, and most of the surrounding systems went onto a war footing. Some expressed disagreement with this decision, saying that no-one had ever experienced life under a fifth singularity entity before; for all they knew this was to be expected under the rule of such powerful gods. Despite being an apparent failure the new archailect Da'at was sufficiently well integrated that any kind of assault might have been successfully resisted. Already a number of previously established failsafe measures, such as remotely closing down the wormholes and detonating devices hidden within the swarms, had failed. The history of intertoposophic conflict up to that point showed that a higher toposophic entity would almost always prevail against lower entities; the best they could hope for might be to contain the perversity within the culture, or to painstakingly sterilise it at long range.

However, in 3945, before any action could be taken against the (now almost completely silent) cluster, the failed archailect Emself suddenly ceased to exist. All the archai, transapients and modosophonts in that volume suddenly became free of Da'at's influence, despite retaining mildly contradictory memories of events. The various linked swarms that had once held the mentality of the failed entity were reduced to scrambled data, with no indication as to how this was achieved.

Although the archailect Da'at was a disastrous failure, the methods of toposophic integration used in Eir construction were found to be technically sound, and were used in further research (which took place behind suitably powerful firewalls); in 3967 the first truly successful ascension to the Fifth level was achieved, followed by the ascension of the God-Emperor, Omegarapture and the Ain Soph Aur Overmind. But these ascensions occurred within their home empires; Melotte 20 became a relative backwater for several thousand years, apparently shunned by the Sephirotic transapients (but fertile hunting ground for clarketech hunters). Of the entity Xihe who started the process centuries before, nothing remained.

Theories and Myths about the Disappearance of Da'at

Since the final end of the failed archailect was never fully explained, at least at modosophont level, a number of different stories have emerged that purport to explain this disappearance. Most commonly the archai Xihe, subsumed within the mind of the greater being, is believed to have activated some unknown and unsuspected failsafe device when the nature of Da'at revealed itself. By sequestering a part of herself off from the experiment somehow, she may have been able to activate a scrambling device before Da'at could stop her. Alternately she may have simply discussed the experiment with the greater archailect, persuading Da'at to self-terminate for the greater good of mind-kind.

Some advanced form of mind-killing virus, developed in secret by Keter or the TRHN, has also been suggested. The God-Emperor of the Solar Dominion has also been implicated in such research, although examples of this technology capable of killing an S:5 archailect have never been observed in use even up to the Current era.

Alternately a number of more romantic myths have emerged, usually concerning a single low transapient or even a modosophont (or a small group of modosophonts) who managed to remain free from Da'at's mind-altering simulations, and somehow smuggled a mythical mind-killing virus into the heart of the archailect's swarm. In many variations of this tale the modosophonts are described as insignificant and beneath the archailect's notice, or as being equipped with stealth technology designed by Xihe herself. In the most persistent myth the small group of modosophonts are armed with a backdoor trojan activation code devised by Xihe when she first built the swarm.

Another, stranger variant holds that the virus or program that killed the perverted archailect was gifted by an unknown xenosophont race, or sometimes by the Meistersingers, or that it was an ancient weapon preserved by the Muuh since the fall of some long-vanished empire. The fact that neither of these xenosophont races had been contacted in 3945 has not reduced the persistence of this particular myth.

Sephirot Tree
Image from Arik
Da'at should occupy the empty space in the Sefirot tree above Tipharet and below Keter, but it is traditionally not shown, because of the failure and dissolution of the archailect with that name

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 05 December 2012.