Image from Steve Bowers
Zamin and its moon Maha
Outer Volumes colony, home of the Wind Cave of Cyrus


StarCyrus, 4357 LY from Earth
Planets:Ishtar Belt: Vulcanoid asteroid belt, 0.03 to 0.1AU
Naheed:Cytherean, 0.56AU, 0.9 terrestrial masses
Zamin: Gaian world, 0.8 AU, 0.73 terrestrial masses
Berjis: EuJovian, 3.3 AU, 0.85 jovian masses
Kayvon: EuJovian, 8 AU, 0.3 jovian masses
Oranus: CryoJovian, 17 AU, 0.2 jovian masses, J-brain.
Pluton: LithicGeledian, 33 AU, 0.05 terrestrial masses
AI EthosBenign administrator, mild Negentropic tendencies
PolitiesCyrusian League, system-wide diplomatic and trade body
Ishtarian Development Corporation (IDC), terraforming Naheed and developing Ishtar Belt
Zamin Federation, federal aiocracy managing numerous polities of Zamin and Maha
Hydrogen Republic, vec aiocracy claiming outer system bodies
PopulationIDC: 3 million nebs, 27 million vecs, 42 million ais & virts.
Zamin Federation: 180 million nebs, 10 million virts, 2 million vecs
Hydrogen Republic: 7 million nebs & tweaks, 58 million vecs
also a small number of Su, hyperturings and other transapients in each polities
EmigrationNet zero; small immigration-emigration rates
TravelBeamrider: 'hot beam' to Blackbody Cluster.
Beamrider: Mollweide.
Commgauge wormhole to Blackbody Cluster
More information; Vulcanoid Asteroids

ZAMIN -Data Panel

TypeGaian, terraformed
Diameter11,486 km
Density5,400 kg / m3
Surface Gravity0.85G
Escape Velocity9,800m/s
Day Length25 hours
Water Area63 percent
Major space portsTehran, Arak, Shiraz
MoonMaha, 2,270km diameter, 5200kg/m3 density, 0.168G, 0.433 lunar masses, 204,000km / 300-hour orbit, 0.5 degree inclination to equator
Major Orbitals3 bean stalks with varied, large synchronous stations


The Cyrus system was initially settled by a relativistic 'claim staking' operation from the Chauzor megacorp, an organisation which was defunct by the time the hyperturing probe Prismatic Helium-3 arrived in 8437AT. Prismatic Helium-3's legal routines decided e was now an independent, even sovereign entity. Left to eir own devices, the probe first established some preliminary industry to meet its own needs and eventually decided to start a vec colony. Establishing an industrial infrastructure would allow the probe to defend its newly inherited claim and develop the system as e saw fit. The development was limited: Prismatic Helium-3 saw no market for a large industrial operation because the sparsely settled systems of the Outer Volumes had negligible physical trade. E did unpack the transcension seed eir creators had provided to convert eirself into an S3 system-management entity, one reasonably capable of defending the system against claimjumpers. This required the construction of an M-brain, which gainfully occupied the small vec colony for a century. Elsewhere, the vecs established the foundations of an ultra-tech industry should they want to use it: idled antimatter factories in the Ishtar Belt; gas scoops orbiting the gas giants; monopole factories, and so on. The adaptable vecs formed a diverse, post-scarcity culture in outer system population centers, engaging in landscape sculpting of Kuiper Belt objects; continuous city construction and deconstruction on icy Pluton; and playing in various regulated vec sports.

(Pluton's bot punting Charon Club is currently a shadow of its former self but reigned as unbroken champions for 255 years in the late eighth millennium until overthrown by the Oranus Orange Club on the 256th challenge. To this day, Hydrogen Republic vecs of Pluton exhibit aversion behaviors toward 256 - for example, naming the 256th floor of a tower as 257, or leaving every 2^8 byte in a memory array unused. Meanwhile, the vecs of Oranus associate statistically anomalous positive outcomes to using 256.)

In 9200AT, Prismatic Helium-3's Hydrogen Republic was contacted by a biont colonial developer who expressed interest in the eoGaian world Zamin. The Hydrogen Republic accepted the request and negotiated limits on development, while positioning itself as the recognized owner of the Cyrus system. The new settlers were granted extended leases. The 'Cyrusian League' is the current expression of this leasing system, primarily serving as a weak interpolity diplomatic and trade mediator but capable of enforcing stern responses should Ishtar Development Corporation (IDC) or the Zamin Federation step outside their leases. Prismatic Helium-3 evinces Negentropic tendencies and thus has limited the speed of system development through the Cyrusian League.

Thus far, relations between the polities of Cyrus have been excellent. The vecs of the Hydrogen Republic appeared to receive the neb and tweak settlers as sources of entertaining stimulus while the personable and polite vecs were good neighbors for the neb settlers. IDC was founded in 10403AT as a joint venture between Hydrogen Republic vecs and Zaminian nebs with the goal of terraforming the Cytherean world Naheed. The nebs, of course, wanted another terraformed world, while the vecs were having fun sculpting a world and playing in the high-energy inner system. The majority of IDC citizens are virtuals (forks of both human and vec origin) remotely overseeing industrial and terraforming operations.

The largest interpolity conflicts are within the Zamin Federation. The Federation oversees the small polities that developed from numerous colony sites on the colony world (and now its moon and orbital space). The nebs and tweaks have become fractious as the world populated, real estate became scarcer, and the original colony's cultural trait of impassioned debate degenerated to unconstructive bickering. The 10200s-10300s were marked by numerous skirmishes between lightly armed Zamin polities, which were considered acceptable extreme sports because all participants were backed up. However, in 10394, the Zamin Federation intervened after a number of factions seemed to forget the entertainment value of the 'harmless' conflict by attempting to manufacture ACER munitions and conversion weapons, and attempting to identify the locations of enemies' back up facilities. For the last 200 years, the Zamin Federation—s S2 management ai, Great Zamin, has more directly ruled the member-polities. The Federation's charter specifies a separation of powers with the Federation nominally handling inter-polity trade, diplomacy, and other common central government duties while leaving the remainder to the member-polities. Generous interpretation of the Federation's charter has allowed Great Zamin to enforce an angelnet to calm matters until memetic engineering could produce a more long-term change. IDC's creation was a deliberate effort to distract the modosophonts of the Federation.

Zamin's culture seems to be sliding toward another round of violence. Military historical reenactments were popular in the early 10500s and considered a constructive means of venting social tensions. Realistic weapons available through the 1st Century BT were allowed and participants were either backed up or used rental bodies. However, the battles have become politicized and expressions of the Federation—s internal disputes. Part of the problem is that the long-lived participants from the skirmishes centuries ago have joined their descendants in the reenactments and brought their ill-will. Great Zamin has not intervened yet since some of the results have been profitably entertaining to media companies (e.g., the VII Claudia Legion's surprise participation in the Battle of Gettysburg, when they routed the Union army and caused a major rewrite of reenactment regulations), but has dropped hints of forthcoming behavioral controls and reprogramming if the situation is not otherwise remedied.

Prismatic Helium-3 has converted the gas giant Oranus into a J-brain, of which e is the primary occupant and may have ascended to S4. Eir former M-brain is now the host of numerous virtual worlds enjoyed by the Hydrogen Republic. Great Zamin, still an S2, occupies a ziggurat arcology in Tehran. There are few other transapients in the system, mostly of them avatars or other deliberately-created representatives of Great Zamin and Prismatic Helium-3 to administer their polities.


The world and, indeed, the entire system currently follow a Persian theme. (The vecs of the Hydrogen Republic use either the bionts' names for the planets or their own, older alphanumeric names.) The Zamin Federation capital city of Tehran has zoning ordinances imposing ancient Persian architecture on the city or, rather, a caricature 12,000 years removed from the original, but few other traces of the original Persian theme remain in Cyrus. The fractious colonists quickly adopted their own cultures and styles.

Zamin is a young garden planet terraformed from an eoGaian state in the 9200 - 9500AT period. The planet had a primitive algal xenoecology (thoroughly preserved in some habitats on Maha), but had been drying out due to a lower escape velocity than Earth and photodissociation of water in the upper atmosphere. Terraforming was thorough and the resulting environment should be habitable for at least hundreds of millions of years. Water levels were increased to cover two thirds of the planet; a complete terrestrial ecology was imported and seeded from deep bedrock to seafloor to all points in between; the greenhouse was tuned to produce terrestrial temperatures; and even the geology was chemically altered to favor terrestrial life, cleaning up oxygen sinks like iron. The world was then parceled out to a few hundred thousand interested colonists who formed over a dozen polities exploring many different cultures and systems of government. The Zaminians are very vocal about differences from their neighbors, but the member-polities of the Zaminian Federation could mostly be summarized as 'post-scarcity ultratech cyberdemocratic leisure states.'

The planet has a proportionally larger metallic core with less compression than Terra. This has helped cool the planet and reduce volcanism to Earth-like levels, but there is relatively strong magnetic field (averaging 130 microteslas) and higher metallic content in the crust. The newly oxidizing state of the atmosphere has not had a chance to reach many minerals in the crust and thus Zamin is rich in native ores that would normally be oxides on Earth. A number of plants and animals required modest genetic engineering to improve their tolerance to trace metals in the environment, though the terraforming was quite thorough in cleaning up many of those.

Zamin's co-formed moon Maha has a similar density and composition to its parent. It is only about 43% of the mass of Luna but is closer to Zamin than Luna to Earth, thus raising tides three times as strong as Luna's. A number of Zamin polities exploit tidal power as a major power source instead of ubiquitous conversion reactors. Maha is currently spiraling out from Zamin fairly rapidly, about 15 centimeters per year, as a result of tidal forces. The moon is also the site of some of the more eclectic inhabitants of Cyrus.


The Pit is a center of neb colonization on Maha, located near the north pole. It started as an open pit mine following a mineral-rich magmatic intrusion into the regolith. After exhausting the ore in 10,117AT, the mine—s owner converted the steep excavation into an unusual 'domed crater' habitat, filling and lining the irregular walls to be an even pressure barrier of nanotube-reinforced sapphiroid and building a sturdy dome over it. The pit is 25 kilometers deep, not counting its dome, and its walls are vertical but step back 110 meters every kilometer of vertical climb. The stepbacks are ring-shaped terraces hosting everything from gardens to modest skyscrapers that climb the walls. Twenty-four stepbacks and a 2-kilometer diameter floor make the top of The Pit 7.28 kilometers wide. What would be the 25th terrace hosts the foundation of the dome. The hemispherical dome has its ceiling 28.6 kilometers above the floor and is not a pressure-supported structure, but rather a robust compression structure that will not collapse during a catastrophic decompression.

Maha's orbit follows Zamin's equator, which gives it a 21-degree tilt compared to the ecliptic. There are thus no real 'peaks of eternal light' or 'craters of eternal darkness' at either pole but the enormous quantity of mine tailings from The Pit were heaped into a ring of artificial hills around the Pit's dome that is about 50% shaded at any time during the year. The Pit's radiators are located on the flanks of these hills. Over one hundred square kilometers of mirrors run along the hilltops and direct lighting to the dome.

These mirrors are able to supply up to about 300 Watts of illumination per square meter of The Pit's 400 square kilometers of floor and wall, though 100-200 Watts is typically used by the heavily insulated habitat. The holographic mirrors in the dome's transparencies distribute this lighting into an even vertical column further diffused by the white sapphiroid walls of the upper reaches. During Maha—s 150-hour night, a conversion-powered luminaire at the peak of the dome supplies up to 120 gigawatts of lighting needed to match a daytime illumination of 300 Watts per square meter. Selective dome opacity and the expediency of turning off the luminaire allows The Pit to simulate a 25-hour day-night cycle synchronized to Tehran.

In addition to radiation through the dome at night, The Pit uses natural convection cooling. Air warmed on the floor and walls rises to the dome, which has a ring of radiator air intakes around its foundation. The radiators handle the habitat's air directly, piping air to tens of square kilometers of radiators on the hills surrounding it. Cooled, condensed air is directed through large tunnels to the base of the habitat where it is warmed again. Because there is no intermediate coolant a punctured radiator risks losing air. However, the radiator pipes are continually maintained by nanites and, in any case, the enormous air volume means the typical micrometeroid puncture is a trivial problem. The intakes at the base of the dome have enormous louvers that can close to prevent air from being drawn into some radiator arrays, typically sunlit radiators, or any badly damaged radiator array. Condensed water is partly separated from the chilled air and delivered to various terraces or sprayed as simulated precipitation, while the remainder is allowed to flow with the chilled returning air to the streams and ponds of The Pit's forested floor.

There is an inverse temperature stratification: the upper reaches are always warmer than the lower. The floor is, in fact, often a cool and humid 5 to 15C that enjoys the shade of 25 kilometers of atmosphere, while terraces at 20 to 25 kilometers may exceed 40C during the day, buffeted by continuous warm updrafts. The gardens and residents of the terraces are tailored appropriately. The higher terraces also deal with a lower pressure. Maha's low gravity means that air pressure at 24 kilometers is similar to 4 kilometers altitude on Earth.

In its centuries of habitation The Pit has developed significant greenery climbing its rough sapphiroid walls. Moss is common at lower levels, while vines occupy middle altitudes. The upper, more arid levels tend to have bare white walls, which serve to diffuse light. Small waterfalls and trickles of water are common along the lower walls. Clouds form unpredictably in the updrafts, modified by deliberate moisture releases and the instantaneous state of updraft turbulence.

The Pit has a permanent population of 15,000 nebs and Lunarian tweaks forming The Pit Association, which is a polity within the Zamian Federation. They occupy the terraces, floor, and towers built along the walls in a leisurely low gravity environment and have little interest in conflicts with other Federation member-polities, making The Pit a refuge from the stress of Zamin. Predictably, all manner of low-gravity flight are popular, such as wingpacks, paracopters, and parasails. Long-time residents will use such techniques to quickly dive many terraces rather than get caught at the bottlenecks of public elevators. The daytime turbulence of perpetually-rising air is taken as an entertaining navigational challenge by aerial-minded residents, but biont tourists participating in aerial sports are prone to producing what locals call 'chowder showers.' At any time there are typically about 30,000 visiting tourists.

The Pit created a holiday that is now celebrated throughout Cyrus (during which tourist numbers may quadruple): Dante Day. This occurs annually on a date estimated to coincide with Dante Aligheiri's birthday (approx. mid-year, 704BT). The pit-like shape and terraces of the habitat have long-produced analogies to the ancient literary work, 'Dante's Inferno'; even while it was a private estate. Shortly prior to the sale of Pit from the original owner to the current residents (10,395AT), the estate was the site of an epic prank that has been immortalized in Dante Day. The former owner, who had voiced unpopular opinions about the minor wars on Zamian, was hosting a party for several thousand friends, family, and sycophants when the habitat was abruptly converted to an imitation of the nine circles of Dante's hell where most of the visitors were harmlessly terrified by demons for some hours while the various terraces erupted with lakes of synthesized blood, tar, feces, and other features of the Inferno. The culprit was never caught despite the abundance of evidence left, but the list of suspects is (as the local joke goes) as long as the Zamin census, so unpopular was The Pit's owner.

Dante Day is now a light-hearted carnival and costume party. The Pit converts its normally-green and scenic garden terraces into a synthesized hell (with far less pitch, feces, and blood than on the first Dante Day) populated by all manner of thematic characterbots. Acquiring the rare tickets to The Pit's celebration is extremely difficult forcing most interested residents in Cyrus to attend local celebrations. Since the 10530 Dante Day, it has become a widespread practice on Zamin for costumed children to go door-to-door demanding sweets with the cry, 'torture or treat' Hydrogen Republic vecs enjoy the celebrations, too, exchanging treats of solidified, flavorful CHON or batteries with unique energy release rates depending on the recipient's refueling system.


Though The Pit was primarily an opencast mine, it did have a number of horizontal tunnels chasing rich veins of material. These were lined with sealant and in some cases expanded to sizable caverns, serving as reservoirs of air and water. Naturally, some residents permanently moved into the caves. One of the groups settling there spawned an interest in a lo tek, hostile-world caves settlement by sharing shared their venture on a mildly popular media program. Others followed suit.

'The Caverns of Maha' were the result. Few groups actually occupy the tunnels connecting to The Pit, over which The Pit Association maintains ownership. Instead, the caves are a product of new settlements around The Pit, usually dug into shallow regolith or magmatic megalith outcroppings. The large ultra-tech habitat serves as a convenient transport center, rescue facility, and vacation spot for the numerous adventures in prim, lo tek, tuff, and retro-abo moon living.

The Caverns are only two centuries old but have inspired several similar efforts around Terragen Space, including on Batts in the New Brooklyn system. A common feature of these 'primitive moon habitats' is that residents are rarely permanent, but rather dabbling for a few years or decades before moving on to other entertainments. Many of those residents are forks who can re-merge their retro living experience with their prime personality. This has produced a large 'churn' in Cavern cultures as new residents bring new interpretations of what technologies and habitat designs are appropriate. Some habitats that manage to agree to consistent rules get into competitions to be the most authentic form of some aboriginal group (Lunarians and Joh-Laus are are popular), or use the most primitive technology, or use the least amount of genetically engineered life, or develop the most easily maintainable low- or middle tech habitat. So far, no Cavern has adopted a Ludd charter; occupants aren't opposed to higher technology, they are just trying to live without it. On the other hand, constant exposure to tourists and the nearby Pit undermine attempts by some Caverns to isolate themselves. The so-called Wind Cave is considered a classic example of Maha's Caverns.
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Development Notes
Text by Mike Miller
Initially published on 03 September 2015.