Wormhole of non-terragen origin within the boundaries of Muuh space.
|The Muuh fleet surrounding the Ultima Gate, as seen from the edge of the Exclusion Zone|
A wormhole with radius of almost 1 kilometer, the Ultima Gate is of non-terragen origin and is located deep within the boundaries of Muuh space. It has long been observed by Terragen telescopes, including the Argus Array. It is guarded by perhaps the largest single Muuh space fleet known, including craft that appear to be autonomous warships analogous to autowars, possible intelligent super-objects capable of offensive action and a cloud of sophisticated nanotech weapons.
The gate is an enigma even for the leading experts on Muuh history and culture. Early theories attributed its construction to the Muuh themselves, but when the Muuh finally granted Terragen researchers access to the Spacial Engineering section of some of their larger archives, it was concluded that the Muuh are, at least now, incapable of producing wormholes of such size and sophistication.
Unfortunately early reports attributing the Ultima Gate to an unknown third party were interpreted by some individuals and sensation hungry news outlets as evidence of Dawn Hunters or other malign entities. This led to a short-lived panic, particularly among certain nearby Hider polities; the Black I faction created thousands of Dawn Beacons as a defence measure. Unusual emissions coupled with increased industrial activity and unwillingness of Black I to communicate were misinterpreted by their neighbors as preparation for conflict, causing an arms race and eventually a short but bloody war. The events of this conflict were popularized by the virch series Readzzzz N8/Best to forget this. This initial reaction eventually faded but the violent events highlighted once again the notorious paranoia of many Hider factions about the Dawn Hunter mythos.
The mystery of the gate's origin is deepened by the Muuh attitude towards it. The Muuh have declined to answer any questions concerning the nature of this structure, and in fact its very existence was repeatedly denied by most Muuh sources even when they are confronted with evidence of its existence. This the gate one of most notorious Muuh taboo subjects. Muuh maps and databases not only omit the structure but go as far as replacing it with a star of equivalent mass. The name of this fictional star can roughly translated as "Listen and not listen gives nothing", and this name is considered by some researchers, most prominently KL/MR++ of the Grand catalog, to carry a hidden meaning perhaps referring to the origin of the wormhole.
History Even though the Ultima Gate is clearly off limits to Terragens, several diplomats, researchers, missionaries and eccentrics have attempted to approach this system, despite frequent warnings from the Muuh System of Response. A number of diplomatic incidents occurred before the Sephirotic Archailects enforced a strict travel ban into the volume, among them the destruction of an entire research fleet from the Seams and the death of the prominent neo-Zunist prophet Mao-Zunbil Everpresent. Since neo-Zunists consider non-gradual uploading and standard backups to be unacceptable and sinful, and the last backups of the Seams fleet were far from recent, so these casualties were highly significant. This incident led to brief hostilities between the Muuh and the polities involved; luckily only a few skirmishes with few casualties occurred before mediation was successful.
After these incidents only a few institutions were allowed to approach and study the wormhole, all sponsored and under the guidance of major Archai and with the permission of the local System of Response. None of the investigators were allowed to approach closer to the wormhole than 0.7 light-years, but this proximity allowed them to observe the Muuh defence fleet in detail. Curiously the observing fleets were exclusively composed of asimovec-like sophont ships with strict obedience protocols.
In order to enforce the travel ban, a small but powerful joint Terragen fleet has been stationed between sephirotic space and Muuh space. This fleet is tasked with preventing any unauthorised craft from approaching from both directions, and is seen by some individuals as indicative of possible danger coming from the gate. This possibility has neither been denied or confirmed by the parties involved.
Fortifications The transition of the gate is surrounded by a cloud of objects which have been scanned by the investigating fleet and found to include devices which are almost certainly sophisticated disassemblers, spherical objects with diameters ranging from 10 to 37 mm apparently containing amat, and curious devices that have been labelled cnidae.
Of these the cnidae are of particular interest. The scans indicate that they contained coils of compressed magmatter wire which resemble the cells of the same name present in members of the Terran phylum Cnidaria. Upon release the magmatter wire would penetrate almost any material, creating defects in hull, sensors and computronium. While a single cnida would cause relatively little damage, the cnidae are always deployed in huge numbers. In addition, cnidae often act as nanoscopic syringes, carrying small but dangerous payload of disassemblers.
Any craft attacked by these devices would need to conduct frequent repairs and adjustments to its path in order to avoid greater damage. It is suspected that the cnidae would be used to herd attackers towards other defense systems. This hypothesis is confirmed by records of the destruction of the neo-Zunist fleet.
The cloud is periodically replenished from nearby facilities, researches have noted that levels of production vary in time, perhaps in response to so far unknown stimuli. A number of suspected fortress ISOs presumably associated with the System of Response or other less known entities is known to be in the area, as well as numerous Muuh autowar analogs. In addition, the gate is orbited by several clusters of powerful single-shot particle cannons targeting the gate itself. The apparent intention being to collapse the gate using the mass and momentum of discharged particles.
Experts have noted that the cloud itself does not appear to be a very good form of defense, in fact it seems very likely that any entity capable of creating a wormhole of such complexity could easily bypass or destroy all Muuh defenses in the area.
Nevertheless, the insistence of Muuh on such defenses and the amount of resources they have invested in them suggest that whatever is on the other side is of great concern to the Muuh; perhaps the threat (if any) is of a comparable toposophic level to the Muuh and these defences would be adequate, or perhaps the Muuh are acting irrationally due to fear. Another possibility is that the fleet is a diversion, and the main defences are not detectable. Over the millions of years of their history the Muuh appear to have acquired several forms of advanced technology from various sources - for instance they possess a non-trivial quantity of magmatter, a material which they do not appear to be currently capable of manufacturing. Did they make this material themselves, long ages past? Or was it a gift from some other civilisation? If so, what other gifts did they receive?
Armaments appear to have been added to the fleet over many millenia. Excavations detected by early expeditions on the remains of an unnamed local Stevensonian planet suggest that the Muuh used it as source of material almost four million years ago. This implies that the gate is at least as old as Muuh colonization of the region. Another fact to note is that the closest Muuh settlement is located almost 70 light years away, a considerable gap in the otherwise homogenous Muuh colonization pattern in this volume.
Recent Developments In the last three centuries various sources have reported increased activity in the region, Muuh, Sephiriotic and even several Panvirtuality ships appeared in the region, speculated to be carrying clarketech weaponry.
Unconfirmed reports also speak of Metric ghosts in the region. Some of these phenomena resemble those commonly associated with Black Angels and other >S5 metric engineering. All archai have so far declined to answer any questions related to gate, although an avatar of Yave provided this cryptic note:
All we are doing now the Muuh have done eons ago. We must hope that we won't *listen and see* like they did.
Text by Dalex
Initially published on 25 March 2015.