Shigemasy, Vidriole
Vidriole Shigemasy grew up in Arx, a minor member of the Sophic League in the spinwards Penny Archipelago. Arx was founded by traditionalist neochristians during the 4740's, setting up a nearbaseline human limited technology society based on a strict interpretation of the Bible and Fifth Evangelion. The population lived in extensive habitats in the system, performing most duties as manually as possible. The structure of society was hierarchical with feudal aspects, controlled by the oligarchically run Church of Arx. The various major system aioids held fixed positions in the church hierarchy, largely following the founding covenant and leaving most politics to the bioids.

Vidriole Shigemasy began her career as a cargo navigator, but became involved with revolutionary movements protesting the repressive government. She was jailed and physically punished several times, which gave her further status as a leading dissident. In 5875 she led the Jordann rebellion, as Jordann biosphere broke free from the Church of Arx. During the next 34 years she was involved in the biosphere government and organising both defence from orthodox attacks and encouraging further rebellions or reformations systemwide. Several assassination attempts were made, and at least two succeeded. She still mysteriously survived, giving her a near mythical stature among her followers. The real reason for her resurrections was very likely restoration from backup copies (illegal in Arx and largely unknown at the time) made in secret by the Honoured Primate Komabaz, one of the five subcurial AIs and her secret supporter. The evidence came to light only after the AI had transcended in 7383.

In 5909-5912 the Arx Reformation occurred, as the Church of Arx suddenly crumbled under the onslaught of the various schisms. In the peace process Shigemasy became the majority candidate as new pontiff, and in 5913 she became the head of the reformed Church of Arx. The choice was controversial, and she had to defend her policies throughout her career both from orthodox and radical habitats. She undertook a reformation of the entire system political and religious structure in a more liberal direction, especially related to the preordained occupations and forced monasticism of mekules. During this period she increasingly turned to religious matters, composing a number of theological virtual scripts (collected as the Emblemmia after her death).

In 5946 it was discovered that the previous Church had scanned the minds of 2290 million people before or at their deaths during the 6200-7800 period, storing them in hidden nanoblocks in the outer system. The purpose of the program was apparently to be able to extract confessions of sin even after death if necessary, although the system was seldom used. The discovery of the "Well of Souls" caused a major crisis. The total number of stored people were nearly twice the current population. Restoring the victims from backups would be enormously costly and strain the resources of the fairly primitive Arx economy as well as introduce the problem of a massive influx of orthodox neochristians into reformed society. Leaving them inert would according to neochristian doctrine trap their souls in limbo. Destroying the nanoblocks would be equivalent to murder.

Various fractions formed around different proposals, and Shigemasy (promoting an unpopular gradual resurrection procedure along family lines) had to contend with the popular legalist Archbishop Kemotona (promoting destruction). In the 5948 elections Shigemasy lost, but successfully delayed the Kemotana administration from implementing their 'release program'. After illegally restoring 33 randomly selected victims she and a number of co-conspirators were exiled to Oort stations indefinitely. There she completed the Emblemmia and began the unfinished Glotate.

Meanwhile the political struggle continued, as Kemotana found himself attacked both Shigemasy loyalists and undermined by the widespread and increasing doubts in the general populace about the release program that were spawned and nurtured by the witnessing of the 33 restored victims. After the 5950 attempt to implement the release was stopped by the subcuria and after a general strike Kemotana resigned. Shigemasy was restored as pontiff and began to construct a restoration program. Over the next 400 years the victims were restored to biobodies and shunted through a bootstrapping reorientation administration. While the operation did as expected cause serious economic strain and a notable shift in political balance, interstellar aid and the often common conversions to reformism when the victims learned the truth helped keep the situation under control.

Shigemasy transcended in 6021, leaving a massive legacy on Arx and neochristianity. Her reputation, already mythical in her lifetime, increased without bounds as the myth of her life was re-told to generation after generation of Arxians. Her religious writings became regarded as if not scripture then the level just below, 'divinely inspired canon'. In 6045 she was named a saint within the Church of Arx, and in 6233 the the Sophic Ecumenical Board of Causes for Saints named her as having been in direct contact with Pure Awareness.


Ghunai Tomoras, The Life of the Shigemasy, Kollpa Orbital, Arx, 6393

Jon Rethem-Kza (ed.), Sophic Saints, Block III, SEBCS Publishing, Ararat, 6280

Ki Xdammi, Kailur Rethem-Kza and Danomoed of Hissa, Revolution with Miracles: the Realpolitik of the Arx Reformation, Ono Arc, Sacred Heart, 9293

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 23 October 2000.