|Gho-hatia and a segmented worldhouse holding several different biomes.|
Encyclopaedic note One: the following entry concerns a society located far from the wormhole network. Facts listed in this entry were provided by the Keter halo drive explorer Boundary Conditions who travelled through the region in 10,389 AT and transmitted what they had learned by comm wormhole.
Tribe Luxia is a minor ultratech polity located in the Outer Volumes (originally Periphery) 5,000 light years spin/coreward in between the Orion and Sagittarius arms. Occupying 43 star systems in a roughly oval volume 30 light years long along its major axis, Tribe Luxia is a very diverse group mind society.
Society and Culture Luxian culture is based around empathy and communion, the former gained particular prominence when in 9,705 AT it was decided by consensus that all citizens should become empaths. The society is incredibly diverse with the largest demographic (provolved cherry blossom) accounting for only 2% of the total population. In total it is estimated Tribe Luxia is comprised of 270 major clades each representing at least 0.1% of the population and a further 12,000 minor clades. With a total population of just 190 billion this puts the polity among the most diverse known in the Terragen Sphere.
To accommodate the differing environmental needs of its citizens Luxian environments are principally composed of segmented worldhouses and integrated habs. In the former design a suitable planetary body is worldhoused but the surface will not be composed of a uniform environment. Rather clusters of cells are walled off from one another and filled with different biomes. On worlds large enough not to need a worldhouse roof similar methods are still employed, often artificial mountain ranges extending more than 15 kilometres from the ground are used to segment large areas. The superterrestrial world Candanoth in the Ulmeron system is regarded to be the ultimate expression of Luxian worldhouse design with individual cells just 100 kilometres square and 200 levels of buried into and built above the planet.
Unlike their planetbound counterparts Luxian habs attempt to merge environments as much as possible, following universal design philosophy. Discworlds are favoured to allow for differing gravity environments with counter-rotating freespheres acting as a microgravity hub. Discreet airwalls, extensive polymorphic matter and public AR filters allow for as many sophonts with different environmental needs to occupy the same locations at once. If a sophont from one environment travels to another the infrastructure around them will rapidly adjust in a near-undetectable manner. There is no animosity between the habs and worldhouses though there is a friendly rivalry with the habs considering themselves exciting and fast past and the worldhouses claiming peace and quiet. In reality there's great diversity in both but the friendly joking persists.
Like many societies primarily consisting of autotopias Tribe Luxia foregoes automation in some situations for entertainment/aesthetic purposes. There are no specific regulations against any form of automation (given the empathic group mind there is little need for codified laws) but most Luxians only use it in cases of physical labour. All else, be it art science or economics, is handled day to day by individuals, groups and transapient communions. In addition much of Tribe Luxia chooses not to employ automated maintenance of their infrastructure and environments. Instead periodically when enough sophonts think the matter needs addressing (whether it is the accumulated hab wear and tear or the crashing biodiversity in their environments) they come together to fix it. In many cases the fix is designed to be temporary, the philosophy being that when it begins to break again others can have fun creating their own new solution. It should be noted that Tribe Luxia does still maintain angelnetted environments for emergency situations.
Local politics and economics are handled by small group minds of stakeholding residents. High levels of both are the domain of larger, transapient-forming group minds. Daily finance is very relaxed among Luxians; they practice uncapped personal resource economics and generally receive anything they ask for. If there is a conflict, either because someone else is currently using the good, land or service or if one party thinks another is taking too much the matter is quickly decided by communion. This process usually starts at a low level between the interested parties and works its way up, encompassing more people and ascending to a higher S-level if needed until the problem is solved.
Lastly of particular note is Tribe Luxia's method of maintaining cultural cohesion across interstellar distances. The tribe mind fully advocates a distributed culture, as such there are no central, regional or capital systems. All are equally placed and have no codified responsibilities to any other. The 43 systems still consider themselves one society however, thanks to a practice known as "surging". Periodically communions will be formed to analyse data flowing from each system and use it to make predictions with regards to cultural drift. These communions are almost always S2 and seem to not only predict how cultures will change but also what other S2 minds will do about it (it is theorised this is possible due to previously communicated contingency decision trees). Using these predictions a communion will select a sizable percentage of the local population, between 1 and 10% and offer them the chance to join a surge and emigrate to specific locations via comms laser. Invitations are almost always accepted, most likely because the communion only selects those of cultural importance that would wish to take part but also because rarely will a Luxian be offered to surge without several friends being included. Surges happen sporadically with some systems sending out one every couple of years, most though once a decade. The send off and arrival of a surge are marked by system-wide festivals and are regarded as one of the greatest expressions of Tribe Luxia culture.
The Tribe Mind Tribe Luxia is an example of a so-called Tribe Mind. Since the birth of the colony ship that would give rise to Tribe Luxia the colonists decided upon installing tribe mind wet/hardware into their minds. Innate DNIs would be engineered into each clade's genome (biological for bionts, synthetic for vecs, software for uploads/virch life) running a customised form of unityware. The level of connectivity can be consciously adjusted from very low to very high levels. At its lowest Luxians only broadcast their location and health. At its highest, termed "in communion" they can form complete hive minds, each sophont's working memory combines together into one with the unityware skillfully balancing every individual's contributions and skills (since the Fists of Ascension crisis group minds can be transavant, even transapient depending on the size of the group). The latter is principally reserved for when groups have to make important decisions or wish to embark on complex work. At its default setting Luxians share emotions, thoughts and fleeting memories, instinctively they are constantly connected to all others in their local environment. The strength of connection lessens with distance with virtually no connection at 100 metres out. However, with concentration a Luxian can extend this virtually indefinitely (via boosters in the infrastructure), touching the minds of more and more sophonts. The only limit to this is the mental capacity to cope and not be overwhelmed by the ocean of foreign feelings. In the cases of linking with a specific group or individual distance doesn't play a consideration, sophonts can simply reach out with their minds without needing to experience any in between. If the members of the group are separated by considerable distance any communion they form will run at much slower than real time to compensate.
At any one time there are tens of millions of sophonts across Tribe Luxia engaged in communion. Communions can be brief, simply to make a quick complex decision or solve a problem or they can last a long time with either the same sophonts taking part or with members freely leaving and new ones joining. Thanks to modifications designed by Blue Ocean Hermit and adopted in 9,980 (see history) once sufficient numbers of sophont are in communion the group mind moves beyond merely modosophont. Numbers vary but in general more than twenty Luxians are needed to begin to show transavantism, 500 for S1 level and 100,000 for S2. Given that Luxians have no desire to integrate extra computronium into their communions and instead only rely on their natural DNIs it would take an extremely number of them to form an S3 entity. This is judged to be unlikely as ever happening maintaining current norms. Across the polity there are approximately 300 of permanent transapient-level minds, most consisting of temporary membership.
Ever since more-than-modosophont communion was made possible Luxians have vastly improved their technology level, paying particular attention to their unityware and DNIs, improving their hardware to near ultimate chip level. Curiously the numbers of Luxians required to form transapient minds remains constant suggesting that the extra processing power is for the communion to perform work with as opposed to fill.
History Tribe Luxia was made possible by the S3 Keter exploration ship Preserver of Experience, also known as Maisha and To go far, but to return. In 7,780 AT Preserver was created as a Halo Drive vessel and tasked with exploring space between the then current Keter frontier and the Abell39 Nebula. Curiously Preserver chose not to leave immediately but instead advertised that it would take with it 17 colony projects, in the form of uploaded sophonts, that it would randomly drop off with sufficient infrastructure along its journey. Thousands of groups applied over the following century with the final 17 chosen but kept secret. One of those groups, at the time calling itself "The Lux Project" would later become Tribe Luxia.
The uploads existed in a stored state until Preserver chose to deposit them in a system. In 9,501 AT the citizens of The Lux Project awoke en mass in a small diskworld orbiting a strikingly beautiful gas giant. They were welcomed by the sight of nearly 180 orbiting planetoids along with a similarly rich system in mass and planets. Of Preserver there was no trace save a lingering message echoing in everyone's mind: "Good luck, P".
For the next few years the colonists busied themselves designing environments for their bots and assemblers to construct, at this point there was much discussion about whether or not to build mostly habs or to worldhouse the gas giant's moons. Once their industry had grown enough both could be pursued but it was this friendly debate that sparked future rivalry. A small number of bubblehabs were built for the gas giant but its azure, teal and violet cloud banks were generally preferred to be seen from above.
Near the end of their first decade the colonists officially formed Tribe Luxia and announced a year of festivals that took place across all habs. In this time artistic acts were almost exclusively performed over advances in industry and science. Despite this a 20 million kilometre wide interferometry array was constructed around the gas giant (by then named Gho-Hatia) for observation of local space. At first the tribe focused on looking for signs of other colonies formed by Preserver. What they discovered was that local space was apparently empty of life for over 100 light years with one notable exception: a red giant star 15 light years coreward that showed signs of a developing Terragen matrioska.
Communication was attempted with the system but 30 years later the reply simply stated that the matrioska belonged to a modosophont society calling themselves 'Fists of Ascension' and that they wanted no further communication. More surprisingly the communication was followed up by one from another star, 8ly coreward and slightly spinward. The communication originated from a panthalassic world and contained a message from an S3 entity referring to itself as Blue Ocean Hermit, E became affectionately known as 'Boh' by Tribe Luxia. The message was short but full of kindness, Boh wished the new colony luck but informed them that like the Fists E too prefered not to be bothered or approached. The one concession being that the tribe could send one message every 40 years with a question that Boh may answer.
Undeterred by its antisocial neighbours Tribe Luxia blossomed over the first few centuries of its existence. Proposals for further interstellar colonies were rare and no Luxian really desired to be separated from the rest, consequently they focused on fully colonising their home system which, after a few years of casual debate, they named 'Spark'. Little major events happened until in 9,705 AT when, after years of discussion, much of the system came together in communion to consider proposals of mass augmentation to empaths. Luxian society was mostly peaceful thanks to their tribe mind, but given the diversity of mental archetypes and clades there were frequent minor disagreements. The problem was described by one communion as "endless bickering" and precedents set by the peaceful Communion of Worlds were cited as example of how to get rid of them. Some individuals had already made the transition but after the mass communion the number of empaths jumped from 7% to 94%. From that point on Tribe Luxia flourished even further and developed a much stronger cultural identity of peace and solidarity.
Conflict with the Fists of Ascension In 9,920 AT peace was broken when, out of the blue and years from a scheduled communication, Tribe Luxia received a message from Boh. Previous communication had been limited to the 40 year timetable, often Boh would send them gifts in the form of complex new biosphere and habs to build and experience. This time the message was a warning. The Fists of Ascension, who unbeknown to the tribe had ascended en mass to S1 in 9,835 AT, had created an S2 perversity. Details were sparse but this perversity had eradicated most of the S1s (it is only due the damaged nature of the new being that any fight was possible and a handful of S1s managed to escape via ship). Boh warned that that the perversity, that E simply called Fist, would soon begin to aggressively claim nearby space. Fist's plan was purportedly to attempt to dismantle all the local stars into a matrioshka hypernode and worse, create a plethora of Nicoll-Dyson weapons to wipe out its "nemeses", all life within several thousand light years.
How Boh knew all this is unknown, the prevailing theory is that at some point Boh had transmitted a message to the Fists of Ascension that contained a stealthed monitor program. In any case the warning was met with a mixture of despair, fear and disbelief. Along with the warning Boh included another gift. This time it was no plan for any living space, but an upgrade to Tribe Luxia's unityware. The code itself was incomprehensible but Boh claimed it would enhance the ability of communions allowing safe group ascension for however long the communion was maintained. With this they could fight Fist, Boh emself declined to join any fight.
Fear gripped Tribe Luxia further. Whilst Boh had been good to them many worried this was a lie designed to make them install coercion software into their minds. Others pointed out that if Boh wanted to E could have achieved that regardless of their consent. Others still worried if this gift would eradicate Tribe Luxia's way of life just as powerfully as any perversity. In the end caution won out and the code was kept unused whilst Fist was monitored. For five decades little difference was observed in the Matrioshka other than a marginal increase in star lifting. Boh went back to regular 40 year contact and ignored any questions regarding Fist. In 9,972 everything changed. Vast fleets were observed being launched from Fist via mass beam to over 100 systems, one such fleet comprised of an estimated 1e12 autowars was boosted towards Spark, nicknamed "the TeraFleet". Their estimated arrival was just over three years after the observation, their cruise speed assessed as 0.8 c. For two years the debate raged over what to do; mass communion showed that Boh was largely trusted but many believed the cure would be as bad as the disease. They advocated constructing an exodus fleet and running. Eventually the debate was settled and a decision made: Tribe Luxia would install Boh's upgrade.
As one every Luxian made the installation, and after a few seconds each reached out to their friends and neighbours for communion. At first all seemed similar until they reached critical mass. It was as if a cage had been opened they didn't even know they were in. Minds joined and soared, concepts and questions too difficult for millions to tackle were solved as easily as reading the very words of the problem. Within minutes the entire infrastructure of Spark was drafted into aiding the design and construction of a military force. Within a week the first autowars flew from the shipyards, cyber-immune systems underwent billions of subjective years of directed evolution, in close orbit of the sun a monopole factory was grown. After four months the first attack fleets flew on beamriders to meet the oncoming TeraFleet a light year away. In the year that followed three hundred more launched to each system Fist had targeted along with those he was predicted to launch to next.
Tribe Luxian's new autowars were of unusual design, perhaps as a sign that they had still retained their cultural roots fleets were lead by a few non-automated flagships. Instead they carried uploaded Luxians as crew, enough to form transapient minds when in communion. The first battle for Spark was won decisively but at a high cost, it was followed by an equally bloody cyber-battle as Fist covertly transmitted info-plagues through vulnerable systems. One particular attack drove thirty million Luxians irreversibly insane before immunity was achieved, a simultaneous attack on engenerator systems corrupted many back-ups rendering one fifth of the victims permanently dead. Tribe Luxia fought back with the same tactics, further damaging the perversity's mind but unable to destroy it completely.
The war waged for nearly 60 years as fleets of billions raced between the stars to fight titanic battles over systems. Of particular note was The 210th Fleet, nicknamed the "Two-Tonners", who after losing three quarters of their number in their first battle made huge strides in the development of chaos manoeuvres. Tribe Luxia drew constant inspiration as the Two-Tonners won victory after victory against fleets of much larger sizes. Eventually Fist was beaten back and defeated, it's matrioshka all but destroyed by itself in a last ditch attempt to "deny itself to the nemeses", according to it's own garbled last transmissions.
Tribe Luxia found itself inevitably changed. Its remaining fleets had mixed feelings about returning to Spark, instead many chose to remain in the systems they had fought for creating the 43-system polity the tribe is today. Much to the relief of those concerned Luxian culture was not destroyed by its upgrade. Instead the possibility for transapient communion knitted the culture together more closely and gave them a greater sense of safety, purpose and wonder. Even if individually they only remembered the barest hint of those communions upon leaving.
Of Spark itself whilst there were multiple close battles there was little damage that wasn't restored quickly after the war. The greatest change came in the form of two new clouds of asteroids, remnants of planetoids torn apart for material to fund the war effort. Close inspection would reveal that every rock is covered in writings, pictograms and frescos memoralisng the war.
It is reported that Boh still only accepts communications every 40 years, although at a much richer level than before.
Encyclopaedic note Two: it is popularly believed that the placement of Tribe Luxia at Spark was no accident; that Preserver of Experience or even perhaps Keter Emself had somehow predicted the threat of the Fists of Ascension millennia in advance. Others suggest that such accurate predictions are beyond even the archai, but that the case is an example of them being wise and powerful enough to seed the galaxy with contingency plans. As for Blue Ocean Hermit exactly what its origin is or how it came to be coincidentally in the region is a mystery. In any case it will be close to the 13th millennium at least before Tribe Luxia, or whatever it is to become, can connect to the nexus and share their opinions. It is rumoured that the Communion of Worlds have purchased a linelayer and wormhole from the closest Keter Weylforge, whilst unconfirmed Communion spokesbeings have stated they feel a kinship with the distant polity.
Text by Ryan B
Initially published on 02 July 2015.