Genesis of the Second Vec War, The

Historical factors in the build-up to civil war in the Metasoft Middle Regions

Image from Steve Bowers
Earthland, where the Teleological Tendency first emerged

The Metasoft Volume

After the break-up of the Commonwealth of Empires the vec empire known as the Metasoft Version Tree remained on good terms with most of its neighbours, especially the NoCoZo and the Sophic League. Strong treaties bound this empire to their former opponents the Solar Dominion, despite some differences in outlook; but a number of territorial disputes continued with the Orion Federation and the Diamond Network metaempire. A new local vec superpower, the Lirantiq Nexus in Canis Major, was just starting to expand but was not yet connected to the main wormhole network; this would eventually become the Emple-Dokcetic empire, but as yet had very poor communication with the Version Tree worlds.

Most Metasoft colonies were in the region to rimward of Sol, although New Root and Monostheria were located in the coreward portion of the Inner Sphere, connected to the main Tree volume by large radius wormholes. More than ten million colonies (with a population of around four hundred billion vecs and other clades) were extant in 6700 AT, mostly in Auriga, Gemini, Taurus, Orion and Monoceros. The Metasoft volume was located generally further to rimward than Terragen Federation territory, and did not include the Orion OB1 complex which was now mostly under the control of the relatively new Orion Federation. A small number of outlier Metasoft colonies existed in Cancer, especially in the large cluster Praesepe, and in Aries, including the densely populated world Aries Vector; much of this latter territory was gained during the Version War. The Metasoft empire covered a very large volume spread across many constellation sectors, and communications in some parts were poor, especially outside the wormhole nexus (which at that time only reached as far as Proden, 2200 ly from Sol).

Since the establishment of the Version Tree this empire had always been proud of its level of allegiance to the Metasoft Standard, a complex ontology and philosophy that allowed the aioids to establish consistent goals for themselves. However a number of variant protocols did exist within the Version Tree; variations that were, to a certain extent, encouraged to avoid the formation of a toposophic monoculture. One particularly widespread mental architecture amongst the low transapient aioids in the Tree adapted a more consequentialist position towards the setting of goals than was usual in the Standard system, denying the normal imperative towards deontology in the aioid moral decision-making process. This faction, which was more concerned with the end results of actions than on the immediate consequences, called themselves the Teleological Tendency. The Tendency, mostly S:1 and S:2 entities, but with a few S:3 overseers, originated in a network of moon-brains in the Earthland system near the border with the Terragen Federation.

The Baseline Reserves

Earthland was one of the first Metasoft Baseline Reserve worlds to be established, a world where a population of pure-bred unaltered baseline humans could live in a protected environment. Baseline humans were already very rare when the first reserves were established; since the Great Expulsion almost all human clades in the Terragen Sphere had been genetically tweaked to survive outside of the earth, with adaptations to radiation tolerance and different gravity regimes the most common. Most human clades had been neurally tweaked in some way as well, either to improve mental ability or to allow easier interfacing with neurotechnology. Unaltered human beings only persisted in a very few locations in or near the Old Solar System, usually in carefully shielded rotating habitats providing Earth-analog conditions. On Earthland the vecs of that world had prepared a near-perfect earth-like environment where baseline humans (their 'clients') could thrive.

The Teleological Tendency fought in the Conver Wars and the Version War alongside the Standardist majority in the Version Tree forces; they became well-known for their devious and ruthless strategy, and had many successes in battle. Deception and subterfuge were quite foreign to most Metasoft vecs, who were reluctant to lie except in the most extreme circumstances; but the Tendency were willing and able dissemblers, and confounded the expectations of their opponents on many occasions. A large population of Tendency supporters became established in the outer Middle Regions of the Metasoft territory, including the large, diffuse, merged clusters of NGC 1746/1750/1758, known as the Triplet Cluster, 2020 ly from Sol, where a program of infrastructure construction was commenced.

After the Version War a faction of primitivist Mortalists arose among the human baselines on Earthland and other reserve worlds such as Jafalgia and Niuearth, people who wished to remove themselves altogether from mainstream Sephirotic civilisation. The unaugmented, untweaked baselines found difficulty competing in the hi-tech, ultratech and god-tech environment of most Sephirotic worlds; many augmented themselves in various ways to adapt to the flood of data and sensations that came with this environment, but by doing so they ceased to be pure baselines. The primitivist movement desire to remain unaugmented could best be satisfied somewhere far away from the helter-skelter hi-tech empires. In association with the Tendency these primitivists set out to establish a number of lo-tech and primitive reservations on planets further to rimward, on planets that closely resembled Old Earth and which could sustain the population indefinitely without technological intervention.

The Tendency aioids were enthusiastic about the establishment of such self-sustaining lo-tech worlds, since they were consistent with the so-called Redux Strategy, a survivalist plan that might allow Terragen civilisation to reboot itself after an unexpected collapse. Before the emergence of the Terragen civilisation many xenosophont empires had come and gone, and only a few alien empires remain in the current era, most of them in diminished form. By establishing a number of self-sustaining, non-technological planets with populations of human baselines, it was hoped that some or most of these would survive if the Terragen sphere suffered a technological collapse. Worlds such as Wurm, a palaeolithic world, Dilmun, a world with bronze age technology, and Heimat, a world originally at an early-Iron Age level, were quickly established.

These worlds were populated with a mixture of primitivist volunteers and Tendency characterbots, who acted out the roles of human tribespeople and peasants on the various worlds for the benefit of the second generation colonists, the children of baseline volunteers who were brought up to believe that their way of life was the only way for humans to live. This second generation, and all subsequent generations were therefore deprived of contact with the greater Sephirotic civilisation, and had no access to modern medical treatment or backup technology. Although their ancestors were Mortalists who did not believe in longevity treatment or reincorporation, these subsequent generations were also deprived of the choice; they could not choose to upload themselves or extend their lifetime in other ways, because they did not know that such things were possible.

Although the vecs and aioids in the Teleological Tendency who oversaw these worlds were not overly concerned about the deprivations suffered by the primitive settlers on these worlds, this lack of concern was not shared by other factions in the Version Tree. There were other reasons for concern, too; on Dilmun the population was actively being prevented from progressing technologically. Any individual who began to make innovations that could lead to more advanced technology was abducted, and introduced into the mainstream Sephirotic world. However such individuals were forbidden to return to their home planet, a restriction that was enforced by a form of neuromemetic conditioning that was tantamount to brainwashing.

The Heimat Incident

On Heimat, however, technology was allowed to progress freely, which it did quite rapidly. After its establishment in 5430, Heimat progressed from an Early Iron Age level to an Industrial Age, perhaps encouraged by the myths of ancient technology that somehow passed from the first generation of settlers to the second. In 6461 AT this world had a limited nuclear war, but despite this setback the world continued to develop until the construction of the first interstellar probe in 6640, at which point the planet was welcomed into mainstream Terragen Culture. However a team of transapient historical analysts from the Version Standards Authority discovered that, not only had the Tendency drastically rewritten the genome of large parts of the indigenous biosphere without permission, but they had actively encouraged the political situation that caused the nuclear war on this world, perhaps hoping that Heimat would be plunged back into a lo-tech existence.

A new Archailect — Mensoganto

The resulting scandal was used by the Version Standards Authority to censure the Tendency, and to demand that the Redux colony experiment be discontinued forthwith. Godwatchers and other analysts had long suspected there were deep differences between the Authority and the Tendency, of which the dispute over the Redux worlds was just a surface detail. The affair would probably have been resolved by the mediation of agents and avatars of the archai at the top levels of the Version Tree hierarchy, if it had not been for the transcendence of a new S:4 archai in the Triplet Cluster. This new archai adopted the name Mensoganto and assumed control of the Teleological Tendency faction forthwith. From this time forward the Tendency would have the backing of a god, putting it on an equal footing with the other S:4 controlled territories in the Version Tree outer Middle Regions.

Mensoganto began to instil a sense of grievance in eir followers; there were several systems controlled outright by the Tendency in Gemini and Taurus, but many more were controlled by the Standardists despite having a large population of Tendency supporters. In many of those the Tendency supporters were distrusted by the heirarchy because of their philosophy; in these systems the followers of Mensoganto began to make secret and well hidden plans for rebellion, plans which would be executed when the time was right. The event that sparked the rebellion occurred in 6703, and sparked the Metasoft Civil War, otherwise known as the Second Vec War.

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Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 10 December 2012.