Image from Arik and Steve Bowers
One of the life-bearing planets discovered (or perhaps manufactured) by the Caretaker God Lernaea is seen here in this long distance image taken from outside the exclusion zone; the objects in the background are distant galaxies.

An example of a particularly visible piece of the Light Speed Frontier has been established by the caretaker god Lernaea, active along the neighboring Ludman Heinwen, Lozen and 324 Magdalnn Frontiers. The first world claimed by Lernaea was situated in the Argolid system, and was first discovered by pioneers in 8493 A.T.. A message was transmitted to the pioneers, claiming the single life-bearing planet of the system. Lernaea didn't respond to any communication, and indeed hasn't done so at any point in the following 1500 years.

As the light speed pioneers expanded outward, they found every life bearing world already claimed. Judging by the identical behavior of the guardians, including the brief warning message to the first travelers to arrive, as well as the likeness of their ship bodies, most believe all these caretaker gods to be copies of Lernaea.

In 8622 a.t. scouts from the Solar Dominion encountered another system claimed by Lernaea, which has since been named Bastong. However, no life bearing world existed in this system. Observation of Lernaea's installations has since provided evidence, that e produces new ship bodies here, and it is believed that this might be the first base from which e sent eir copies to claim the local worlds.

In 8934 a.t., 9281 a.t., and 9311 a.t. three more such bases were found, while activity at Bastong slowed as the world fell farther and farther behind the frontier. In 9576 a.t. Lernaea ordered all inhabitants to leave the Bastong system, giving a one year deadline. In 9622 a.t. the local solarian transapient adviser Zeuson, revealed that the Solar Dominion had been keeping an eye on Lernaea, when it revealed to a scientific petitioner that Lernaea had started constructing microgauge wormholes at Bastong.

Since then four more forge worlds for ship bodies has been discovered, and the total amount of worlds claimed by Lernaea has reached 34. It is believed that by now the microgauge wormholes from Bastong gives em instant communication between eir bodies. Though the Solarian empire has begun to envelope the Lernaean worlds, and has settlements in several of the claimed systems, there has yet to be any public dispute between the two powers.

The frequency of life-bearing worlds is much larger in Lernaea's volume than in any other volume of the fringe except for the Corinthean Cloud and the Heidelghost Veil. Researchers have theorised that the large quantity of life-bearing worlds may exist because of Lernaea's presence and rapid expansion. An alternative to this theory is that Lernaea might actually be a member of the Solar Dominion, safeguarding the worlds on behalf of Zeuson or someone higher up the hierarchy. A more popular theory amongst the local pioneers is that Lernaea is reseeding the worlds and that the life is of neogen origin rather than having evolved from the work of ancient terraformers. This is a theory that is unlikely to be tested as no researchers have been allowed to explore close enough to retrieve genetic material from any of the species, as long as Lernaea is guarding the planets.

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Text by Thorbørn Steen
Initially published on 29 March 2007.