Roughball War, The

Conflict in the Biowar volume

Image from Steve Bowers
Jethro and its moon Roughball. Warning! Roughball is currently rated at Hazard level 8.

The Roughball System

The Roughball system is located in the Biowar volume at the edge of former Biovirate Territory, and is one of the few systems in that region that remains a hazard level 8. The system consists of a single K4 star orbited by three planets and two asteroid belts. Leroy is the first planet, a Hermian separated from the EuHydroJovian Jethro by an asteroid belt. Further out still is the CryoSubJovian Jenkins separated from the rest of the system by a second asteroid belt.

Roughball itself is a partially terraformed moon of Jethro, tectonic activity is sustained by tidal flexing meaning that it remained a modest atmosphere and hydrosphere, though no life, and was relatively easy to terraform. There are only two continents but many ecozones, especially in the interior of the larger continent.

The Biovirate-Keterist War

When the Biovirate was conquered by the Keterists not all of the systems were successfully captured and held. One such system was Roughball. The Roughball system housed a major biowar breeding facility in orbit around the semi-teraformed moon for which the system was named. The system was fairly far from the Triumphant Fate system on the other side of Pereira. As such it did not receive "Megaraptor C" geneprints until the Keterists were nearly upon them.

When the Keterists arrived in the system they attacked and destroyed the breading facility and its half-finished warborgs but were unable to memeticly subvert the population and still had to fight the remaining biowars which had set up in the asteroid belt. The large number of old style biowars still in the system served as a bulwark against the Keterist advances, while the Keterist autowars were able to destroy the biowars with relative ease the sheer number of biowars and the speed of their reproduction meant that it was a long, slow battle of attrition. At some point, presumable early on but no records survive obviously, the biowars began using their high reproduction rate to swarm the slower autowars. Over time these swarm tactics lead to the evolution of smaller, faster reproducing 'miniwars' which would swarm the target and overwhelm it by force of numbers. This gave rise to an independent clade of warborgs which were able to incorporate scavenged material from their kills into themselves for self-repair. Later species developed the ability to use the debris for reproduction.

One other notable development during this time was the use of goo. Since the beginning goo vs. goo had been a mainstay of both side’s tactics. As the war dragged on past the century mark anti reproductive goos began to appear. A ‘war would launch spore tech containers at asteroids, planetoids, moons, or planets. The swarms within were hybrid khaki/blue goo variants and would attempt to coat the object with themselves, destroying any non-self goos or ‘war larva they encountered. Large numbers of these canisters missed their target, and continue to drift through the system even in the present day.

Periodically these canisters fall to Roughball where the local nanecology combats them and occasionally incorporates parts of them into itself. This process, along with its natural ability to self-evolve, has led to an extremely robust nanecology without which the moon would have long ago been overrun.

Eventually the expanding biowar volume overtook the system and the warborgs entered the war. By this point the space habs in the system had all been destroyed and the only surviving population was on Roughball itself. Although the Megaraptor C decedents finally put to rest the surviving Keterist forces (whose near perfect reproductive fidelity didn't allow them to evolve significantly in the few hundred years of fighting) the war was far from over. The local biowar and warborg clades were mutually unrecognizable to one another and the incoming Megaraptors, and unrecognized 'wars are immediately classified as enemies.

The Bombing of Roughball

After the Megaraptor C warborgs destroyed the last of the Keterist autowars the citizens of Roughball, thinking the war over, launched a bioship to establish a beanstalk they could ride back into space. Things didn’t work out as they planed however as the ship was almost instantly attacked and destroyed by the advanced polemocology* that had established itself in the system. Following the ships destruction all the major cities were whipped out, killing an estimated 80% of the population.

The last high resolution imaging of Roughball’s surface revealed a highly cratered world of patchwork ecologies. Surprisingly, what seem to be low-tech and prim-tech nebs phenotypically similar to the Biovirate homogenized phenotype can be seen in some of the pictures.

Image from Steve Bowers
Swarm of wild biowars in the Roughball system, relics of the Roughball conflict.

The System Today

The system today is very much changed; the asteroid belts are substantially reduced for one, converted into more biowars and accessory items. A thriving space based polemocology is what the system is most known for but the process of gooing every object in order to prevent the enemy from using it has had interesting effects as well. All three planets, their moons, and most of the remaining asteroids host thriving (and in many cases virulent) nanecologies.

The famous polemocology consists of dozens of clades of biowar, many quite derived. In addition to the previously mentioned fully mechanical miniwars which tear apart inorganic ‘wars and convert the wreckage into more members of their swarm there are also biological minwars that issue forth from enormous 'plant' hives for both defense and reproduction, highly advanced goos which have evolved to defend their asteroid against all comers (Leroy is a bot world while the asteroid belts and Jethro are home to biotech based nanecologies and something nasty has evolved in the atmosphere of Jenkins), “neotenous” biowars which act as plants that reproduce extremely fast and are guarded by biowars of their own making, and many, many kinds of normal biowar.

The crust of Roughball is home to a BioGeoComputing entity also called Roughball. Little is known for sure about the Roughball BGC, it is hypothesized to be responsible for the unusual clouds and fogs of Roughball which contain swarms of Bioengined microbes and bionano designed to attach to and destroy incoming goo canisters and auto/bio war eggs.

  • Polemocology: an ecology where most or all of the niches are taken by (descendants of) self-replicating war machines.

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Development Notes
Text by Adam K Black
Initially published on 15 February 2014.