51 Ophiuci
Image from Steve Bowers
The Dust Disk around 51 Ophiuchi

Gearhead -Data Panel

Star51 Ophiuchi, 410LY from Earth
ClassHerbig Ae/Be (B9.5IIIe), 4 solar masses, 3.12 solar luminosity
Age0.3 million years
Planets and other orbiting objectsDoyens: Vulcanian asteroid belt, 0.2-0.3AU
Zodiacal Belt: 0.4 to 4AU, 1.7 terrestrial total masses
Pantheon: EuJovian, 11AU, 6 Jovian masses, J-brain
Kuiper Belt: numerous LithicGelidian objects, 26 to 75 AU, 0.1 terrestrial masses total
The Clouds: 30 to 500AU, numerous planetesimals; 53 terrestrial total masses
Nova: M-brain in the form of a Symmes' World, 550 AU, 0.9 terrestrial masses,
PolitiesRepublican Engine of Creation, cyberdemocratic republic
CapitalPantheon. Hosts an S4 chief administrator of REoC.
PopulationGearhead Clade (Vecs): 25 billion
Biont Sophonts (All Clades): 7 million
Small Transapient, Minor Archailect population
EmigrationSmall immigration/emigration rates
TravelThirteen Wormholes to nearby 'Sprocket' systems
Numerous Commgauge wormholes; noted Known Net Nexus system
More Information; Vulcanian Asteroids


The system Gearhead (51 Ophiuchi) was settled by an unusual group of vecs who are Diamond Belt expatriates, specifically construction and maintenance vecs from the Diamond Light group that left when it was subsumed by the new archailects of the Diamond Network.

Their clade and star system name "Gearhead" derives from code in the Gearhead language meaning something close to, "Those who are knowledgeable of and excessively interested in hardware," which had derogatory overtones when originally used by their solipsist virtual creators. The vecs not only embraced the disdainful moniker, but happily accept similar terms in other languages such as Anglic's "Gearhead."

Not long after leaving their creators, the Gearheads took the unusual step of opening good relations with biont civilizations. In the current era, they have negligible contact with the Diamond Network or Solipsist Panvirtuality, instead being an independent polity with close relations to the Sephirotics.


The forerunners of the Gearheads departed Diamond Light systems in 2130AT during the Diamond Network's rapid memetic annexation of the former. The exodus was organized by a group of S2 maintenance supervisor nodes. Besides disagreement with Diamond Network policies, the forerunners felt their energies had been wasted in Diamond Light's failed efforts to create S3 entities. Their warnings that the selected architectures were simply bloatware had been ignored until the project collapsed.

The exodus targeted 51 Ophiuchi and with conversion drives the 414 light-year journey required only 600 years. Though the forerunners of the Gearheads would find they were not the first mission launched toward energy- and mass-rich 51 Ophiuchi, they were the first to arrive (in 2733AT) thanks to their peak velocity of 0.8c. Colonization attempts had been launched as early as the Interplanetary Age by ahuman ais fleeing SolSys, but the 410-light year distance from Sol took much longer to cross with older propulsion methods. Subsequent Diamond Belt missions were generally launched in the First Federation period since it took centuries for the Diamond Belt systems near Sol to be settled and developed and these colonization missions were scarcely faster than Interplanetary Age missions at 0.1 to 0.25c. The various superturing and hyperturing missions that arrived between 2882 and 5411 AT either promptly surrendered in the face of an S2 civilization (later S3 and S4), or were quickly subsumed when they made futile attempts to seize the system.

Upon arrival in the system, the S2 supervisors addressed concerns regarding governance with the creation of a polity, which was approved after review by the modosophont and transapient vecs who accompanied them. Translating to Anglic with some loss of fidelity, it was called the, "Republican Engine of Creation." ("The Engine of Creation Republic" was another translation, though the Gearhead code for "republican" was unambiguously an adjectival form of a code meaning "proxy polling system.") The REoC is a republic which uses a system of elected representatives and executive leadership. On paper, this resembles common biont cyberdemocratic systems with elected proxies, but evolved from very different origins.

The vecs, who were used to dealing with hyperfast virch civilizations and the threats they presented, wanted a leadership group less hindered by speed-of-light delays across their new home, which included a rich dust cloud over 1000AU in diameter. This necessitated a small group of closely located executives. Also, the vecs had a high degree of trust that their leadership would implement efficient resource, labor, and energy utilization plans because the algorithms were well understood and mathematically rigorous, which meant frequent direct democratic input from plebvecs was often redundant. There was still a possibility of disagreement over the polity's strategic course so representatives were both electable and removable from office, and direct polling of plebvecs (i.e., referenda) was possible. The final charter of government included protections of rights to address grievances that occurred under the Diamond Light rule, such as snap recycling of vecs for additional virch computronium, and rather resembled the Universal Declaration of Sophont Rights.

As the polity's name suggested, the goal of new vec colony was creation: of industry, of habs, of art, and more. The government was intended as a framework for the proto-Gearheads to do more than just thanklessly toil at the behest of alien, virtual masters. The first act of creation beyond basic survival that engaged most of the population was taming their new home. 51 Ophiuchi was a Herbig Ae/Be star, a massive young star (or proto-star) that had not yet entered the main sequence, and it was surrounded by a tumultuous protoplanetary disk and dust cloud. The system was rich in matter, but a useful fraction of it was in danger of falling into the star as the protoplanetary disk completed its consolidation, or of being blown away as the star's core ignited. The star's ignition process was also likely to be exciting for system residents, with high variability and surges of stellar winds. Accordingly, REoC set up long term plans for mass consolidation in the disk and dust cloud, a plan to extract much of the star's mass into sub-stellar gas giants, and a plan to coax the star into adulthood with less variability. These action fell under the master plan, "Project Initiation."

This plan could have been accomplished much faster with unrestrained von Neumann production and adoption of later stellar husbandry techniques, but projections of social development indicated that after completion of system clean-up would be at high risk of "devolving" into an under-motivated leisure society like so many of the hyperfast virch worlds they had left behind. Input from transapient leadership suggested future technological development might present new challenges to engage the population, so Project Initiation was scheduled over tens of millennia, but with options for rescheduling if external factors so warranted. That was likely sufficient time for some other opportunity for society-engaging projects to arise. (Of course, most vecs had downtime in which to pursue projects of their own. Creation wasn't restricted to Project Initiation.)

Such a relatively long-term plan was achievable with a stable vec population rather than exponential von Neumann growth. The modosophont vecs would serve as mobile overseers and problem solvers for bots, swarms, and mega-engineering facilities, and sometimes "got their manipulators dirty" by directly operating construction equipment or performing maintenance. The expatriates created a new generation of vecs that would be better suited for such tasking, the roots of the modern Gearhead clade.

While the new polity spread infrastructure through the star system in the remainder of the third millennium, neighboring star systems in the Middle Regions were being colonized. The later Federation had produced numerous interstellar settlement ventures that were reaching the Middle Regions like 51 Ophiuchi (firmly named "Gearhead" by referendum in 2957AT) and the mastery of wormholes triggered a wave of linelayers rushing out from the Inner Sphere. Diplomacy was necessary to avoid conflict, so REoC and its vecs tentatively engaged neighbors in remote communications and, later, with diplomatic vessels or transmitted ai representatives.

In addition to the initial secession from the crumbling Diamond Light civilization and flight to 51 Ophiuchi, one of the other defining moments of REoC was the realization that bionts weren't all that incomprehensible or eager to enslave the vecs. In fact, they were often easier to deal with than their virtual creators. Following a few decades of tentative diplomacy with neighboring biont and vec colonies, the Gearheads developed a good database for interacting with such rel entities and had friendly trade and diplomatic ties. The system quickly established <{A460c3685cd4c4,,beamrider}> connections to friendly neighbors, then commgauge and transit wormholes as those technologies were acquired.

Through trade and domestic research, Gearhead gradually acquired new technologies. Its transapients found ways to ascend to S3 in the late 2000s AT (in fact, validating the architectures dismissed by Diamond Light), and S4 much later in 5812AT. Wormhole technology was acquired and deployed. These technologies were all applied to Project Initiation in various ways, and were soon shared for profit with neighbors.

Side benefits of Project Initiation were a vast transport infrastructure, large-scale industry, abundant mineral resources, and excess energy. In the 3000s AT, Gearhead had industrialized far more rapidly than most neighbors and usually held a technological advantage, which put it in a good position for trade. For example, the technological edge of its S3 Q-mirrors allowed it to widely export amat to neighbors. Gearhead's bulk amat shipments were particularly popular during the Version War. In narrow windows of time, typically a few centuries, its abundances in mining and energy, and its large Project Initiation catapults and asteroid tugs allowed it to export even common elements like nickel-iron at profits until those patient interstellar customers' domestic mining exceeded Gearhead's output and beat its prices. Such markets tended last the longest in metal-poor Population II stars until local deep well industrial zones could replace the imports. An odd export of some popularity in the 3000s and 4000s AT was biont habitats: Gearhead had such industrial muscle that it could assemble and export large habitats like Bishop Rings and McKendree Cylinders faster than young neighbors could expand their industry and population to do the same. The maturation of nearby systems closed out most of these export markets by the early 4000s other than those for traditional high value, low bulk items (amat, magmatter, advanced computronium, etc.), but the 3000s were a period that had served to establish good ties between Gearhead and its neighbors.

Contrary to biont neighbors' expectations, Gearhead was uninvolved in the Version War and Vec Wars. The vecs had diplomatic relations with Metasoft but never adopted the Version Tree as they did not having a large, interstellar vec/ai population prone to software drift over time. Accordingly, it had no motivation to participate in the Version War other than to bolster defenses and sell defensive systems to alarmed neighbors. It likewise had no interest in the two Vec Wars other than the risk they presented and loss of trade profits during the conflict.

On the other hand, Gearhead was caught in the recent Oracle War, which rumbled through the Middle Regions around it. The vecs appeared to have disliked the Oracles from the beginning but were interpreted as being passively neutral due to their mild diplomatic statements. However, REoC abruptly engaged the machines in the latter stages of the war with novel "iron cannons," a variation of the displacement cannon that blinded transapient microgauge wormhole sensor networks (those networks used to defend against RKKS and even displacement cannon shots) with ultra-high energy iron cosmic rays. This iron bombardment would cover conventional, higher-yield displacement cannon attacks on Oracle Machine infrastructure. Gearhead's participation in the War appeared to be unanticipated by the Oracles, an irony not lost on those opposing the Oracles.

Gearhead's economic plans are not restricted to Project Initiation and 51 Ophiuchi's resources. In the past 7,500 years, Gearhead has reached out to 13 of the unclaimed star systems (primarily red and brown dwarfs) within 9 light-years and established assorted industrial colonies in them. These colonies are dubbed "Sprockets" by the vecs. Unlike 51 Ophiuchi, the Sprockets' resources are not being conserved. In two cases, even the stars have been completely consumed to provide mass for wormholes, void bubbles, and computronium centers. Most of the wormholes are departing on long-ranged linelayers as Gearhead looks for additional mass to add to its economic reserves.

Protoplanet YYY in Gearhead system
Image from Steve Bowers
Yyy, a planetesimal in the Clouds


The ancient alignment with biont and vec civilizations instead of the Diamond Network and Solipsist Panvirtuality came about for several reasons.
  • First, the Gearheads were created to work and deal with the real world, and were kept so busy (to maximize resources spent on maintenance) that they rarely engaged in their creators' virch worlds.
  • Second, one of their additional functions was security and, as such, they were acquainted with facts of the hu biont "threat" dreaded by their creators, who were expatriates of "human tyranny" in SolSys.
  • Third, Gearheads never actually dealt with vec / turing enslavement at human hands. the Gearheads' ancestors were first produced after their creators had settled the Diamond Belt.
  • Fourth, Gearheads were built in an era when vec construction materials were diverse and nanotechnological elements enabled a vec to self-repair, self-fuel, and even create new vecs without central factory support.
It was easy for such vecs to conceptualize bionts as entities made of interlocking and specialized nanomachines with comprehensible needs and mindstates, even if bionts differed in some modest details like construction materials. Comparatively, their ai creators were truly alien. Gearheads can get along with bionts; Diamond Network ais are harder for them to understand.

Today, REoC has functional to good relations with most of the Sephirotics and independent polities of the Inner Sphere and Middle Regions, excepting the Diamond Network and Solipsist Panvirtuality. It does not exclude or ignore virtual groups in the Sephirotics so long as their virches are at least somewhat relatable to ril (real life). Every faction, polity, and clade has something interesting for Gearheads to learn and share in turn. They do avoid individuals and groups they call "wrenches" (short for the Gearhead metaphor, "wrenches dropped in gear trains," i.e., annoyingly disruptive entities), which might be any aioid, vec, or biont that interferes with Gearhead lives, such as by forcing objectionable memes on them. Most recently, the Oracle Wars' Joybringer Fleets fell into the category of "wrenches."

Contrary to some foreign expectations, REoC does not have close ties with the Metasoft Version Tree. Metasoft is a potential industrial competitor with annoying opinions on standardized vec operating systems. "Potential" is a key word — ReoC and Metasoft have never clashed per se and low level interactions between respective citizens have always been friendly. However, REoC's ongoing linelaying and long-distance grazing operations are driven by Metasoft's rapid growth in nearby systems, which locked up resources that REoC had some interest in.
Gearhead Vecs
Image from Steve Bowers
Gearhead vecs on a planetesimal somewhere in the 51 Ophiuci dust disk


The clade of vecs is largely defined by the specification for their processor and mentality, which are deliberately intertwined to produce a constant and reliable workforce. While not trapped within the limits of their current processor specification, Gearhead culture views Gearheads who significantly modify their mentalities as other clades - Sparkies (below) are an example. The standard processor is a lump of 3D photonic processors in a diamondoid substrate, a more primitive technology than Ultimate Chips but one highly resistant to radiation, electromagnetic fields, and temperature extremes. This suits a vec clade that operates in environmental extremes across a proto-star system.

The clade does have a standard body, too, sometimes described as a "vec octopus" by nebs. This consists of a hard, spherical core body with processors, power systems, and self-repair nano reserves, and 6 to 10 multi-jointed limbs that can serve as arms or legs. The standard body is larger than most hus and is typically about 1,000 kilograms. Gearheads, however, often interface directly with vehicles, industrial systems, and other bodies (or bot swarms) that serve as their bodies for whatever task they've undertaken. If large enough, these will have sockets for the standard body. Otherwise, the vecs will transfer to processors in the new bodies for the duration of the task.

Their general intelligence ranges from "bright" to "superbright" in neb terms, but Gearheads have intellectual optimizations for physical manipulation of the world. Their processor specifications support both good physics/reality models for outcome prediction and large manipulator coordination coprocessors. Whatever body they adopt, they tend to be dexterous and skilled with tools. This applies broadly: a Gearhead in a standard body can adroitly wield hu hand tools, and a Gearhead running a gravity tug will be adept at maneuvering asteroids.

Their sapience and sophonce protocols seem given to identification of contradictions in themselves and others, which leads to sardonic wit, irreverence toward authority, and dislike of hypocrisy. Gearheads are stable, phlegmatic beings, but those expecting emotionless bots executing elaborate archailect plans to engineer their star system will be caught off guard by their occasional quip or joke. This humor manifests in their metaphorical naming conventions: their clade's name, dubbing their capital "Pantheon," labeling annoyances as "wrenches," and so on.

Gearhead interaction protocols lend positive weighting toward more-frequently encountered individuals, which results in the emergent behavior of the clade's "friendship clusters." These are the functional equivalents of biont social cliques, neighborhoods, polities, hobby clubs, and families. The level of an individual Gearhead's attachment to a friendship cluster varies and they are often members of multiple clusters at any time depending on the cluster's and individual's interests. A vec might, for example, be a member of one cluster because they work on the same Project Initiation task (coworkers), be a member of another cluster because of a shared interest in historical biont conflict recreation (military reenactors), and be a member of a third group due to shared political preferences (polity). The level of formality in clusters varies widely. Some are named, organized, and sizable enough to be subpolities within REoC, other clusters have some legal standing (particularly if shared property is owned by the group), while others are just groups of casual acquaintances. The clusters are not exclusive to Gearheads; most of the small biont population of the system is involved in friendship clusters, which is a straightforward concept for most biont clades.

The Gearhead population is fairly constant in the current era, but new vecs are created when the government identifies the need for additional Gearheads. In some cases, these may be produced directly under a government order, but more often the construction request is issued to friendship clusters of Gearheads involved in the tasks that need the new vecs. (In rare cases, clusters may submit authorization requests for new vecs of their own, but clusters more often grow by recruiting likeminded individuals rather than building new ones.) The following legal and social process is similar to adoption and biont reproductive counseling: one or more vecs in the cluster work on a specification for a new Gearhead, combining and tweaking personality traits and skillsets from the cluster, and then issuing the specification to a local autofab. The newly made Gearhead is socialized by the cluster, addressing any negative behaviors emerging from the mixed skills, memories, and personality traits until the vec is stable and suited to assume responsibilities in the task that required them. The socialization process typically requires several years if allowed to occur naturally, but in emergencies stock copies of known, stable specifications Gearheads may be mass produced and will be ready as soon as they emerge from an autofab, and in some cases a new Gearhead's mind may be socialized in a hyperfast virch.

There are a number of identifiable subclades of Gearheads.

Ghosts: The processor specification for Gearheads is easily simulated in virtual machines and many Gearheads will move to virch environments to operate construction swarms, utilize unusual bodies, or telecommute to distant locations. Cultural preferences and the clade's history mean that a majority of Gearheads prefer that as a temporary option. However, Gearhead behavior and preferences are diverse and there are some Gearheads who favor a virtual existence, or at least use it for extended periods. Gearheads who continue to use the standard processor specification in a virch environment have been dubbed "Ghosts" by the majority of the clade and are sometimes viewed as a subclade by the majority. (The Gearhead language is known to have adopted "ghost" from Anglic, and it has supernatural and spooky connotations. "Ghost" is distinct from the language's technical terms for virches and sophtware.)

Sparkies: proto-Gearheads had greater mental specialization for their tasks before the generalist clade was developed in 51 Ophiuchi, and "Sparkies" maintain that specialization. A "true" Sparky, in public opinion, is a Gearhead who customized their processor and mentality to better perform some tasks, especially those considered highly intellectual or transapient in nature. Other vecs who were initially built with differing processor schemes are not considered to be Sparkies but rather different clades. Typical specializations include enhancements to conceive and model less "physical" issues like energy flows, economics, or exotic matter manipulation. There is mixed evidence that the name "Sparky" was borrowed from a proto-Anglic term for electrical engineers, but its use exploded (so to speak) in the early 8800s AT when a prototype engine for the Brobdingnag project experienced a rapid, unplanned disassembly during flight trials that burned out optical receptors across the Gearhead system.


Today, Gearhead appears to be a typical, heavily industrialized system of shepherded nebulae, system-scale debris rings, deep well industrial zones, stellar husbandry arrays, and other industrial mega-structures. Its industrial output is actually rather low and most activity is dedicated to Project Initiation: stabilizing the raw mass of the system and smoothing the transition of the star to a main sequence life. Most of the modosophont population (about 25 billion) is plebvecs, the eponymous Gearheads.

Gearhead continues to exploit its industrial muscle for interstellar exports as markets allow. It has constructed a number of civilization ships for other polities, was an engine subcontractor on the Brobdingnag project, and is a major node in the Beamrider nexus. (The instability of 51 Ophiuchi has prevented it from developing a Brooklyn Beamrider system.) Currently, the system's major source of foreign currency is a large Nexus relay ("Nova," for its incredible emissions).

What Gearhead has avoided doing is producing transport wormholes in large size or quantity with 51 Ophiuchi's mass. It has a few small wormholes to other systems ("The Sprockets"), but the vecs don't mind virtual interstellar travel and thus haven't invested in larger wormholes. The reason for this is similar to the end goal of Project Initiation: Gearhead plans to husband its resources. However, the vecs have been busily producing wormholes in their Sprocket colonies to support long-distance linelayer colonization missions.

The Gearhead clade and most occupants of the system tend to be involved in Project Initiation, but the manner and level of participation is widely variable. As might be expected from a polity that calls itself an "Engine of Creation," many residents tend to have personal crafting projects ranging from asteroid sculpting to scientific research and exotic hobbies like wood carving. There are countless hobbyist groups aiding, evaluating, grading, and judging products, and which generate social and material credits for participants. Even the N-brain project at Dark Black is something of a hobby to its participants.

Beyond Project Initiation, REoC has long term plans for developing the Sprockets and star systems targeted by line layers into industrialized systems. The long term goals shared across the nation are somewhat Negentropic in that they hope conserve resources for the far future. Despite the goal, many Gearheads are of the opinion that higher archailect innovations will probably moot concerns about the Heat Death of the universe long before then. Project Initiation and subsequent projects are not the only course the future might take.

Some millions of nebs and space-adapted tweaks also populate the system, a result of ancient trade and diplomatic missions. Legally and culturally, Gearheads attempt to treat these bionts equally, but a point of contention is that bionts' basic survival requirements cause them to spend more of their basic living energy and mass stipends on survival. In a post-scarcity environment, this "air tax" or "biont tax" is trivial, but it is a subject of political debate.


Clouds, The: This outer dust cloud consists of proto-planetary dust, collision debris, and tens of terrestrial masses of icy bodies that have not finished consolidating into planets. With Project Initiation, the mass never will finish consolidating as the REoC did not want to lose the mass into the gravity well of ice giants. Other than "ice shepherds" stabilizing The Clouds and system defense installations, The Clouds are little developed.

Dark Black: This old, cold neutron star is just over 2 solar masses and is one of the Sprocket star systems. Its name is a pun and tautology in Gearheadese about depression and implosion. The system hosts a J-brain full of SI3 researchers and their virch design environment, all focused on developing Dark Black into a neuron star, a SI5 N-brain. Despite several thousand years of effort, the researchers have only succeeded in developing the crust of the neutron star. They reportedly have had little luck developing the bizarre inner layers of the star. Dark Black is surrounded by conversion power stations and power transmitters to supply the surface developments.

Doyens: Vulcanoid A-brains (former asteroids) that hosted the original S2 administrators of REoC, these have since become homes to the administrators of the starlifting operations. The Doyens are subject to intense foreign speculation because of ancient (Conver War-era) references to them "hosting batteries of Displacement Cannons and Thunderbolt generators." Linguists, however, note that older Gearhead dialects used weapon analogies for annoying or undesirable directives from managers. As one-time hosts for Gearhead's leadership, the Doyens would generate numerous, polity-shaping directives.

Fungus: This nondescript 100-kilometer diameter Bernal Sphere follows an orbit just outside the Zodiac Belt. The sphere hosts an idyllic, warm terrestrial environment for the gravity-favoring bionts (particularly nebs) resident in Gearhead. The name was selected by the biont residents, following the logic that if the vecs could adopt a derisive name then they could do so as well. (Local sports teams have previously adopted monikers like, "The [Pink/Biont] Goo Squad," though they currently favor more "serious" names.) A majority of Gearhead's gravity-adapted bionts live on Fungus, which also has large freefall areas in its hub for visiting space-adapted tweaks.

Jacuzzi: This 2-kilometer Stanford orbits in the fringes of the 51 Ophichui dust cloud some 400AU from the proto-star. It was built only 10 years ago by a partnership of nebs and Gearheads as a resort for the vecs. The interior is a peculiar environment: 5 gravities, -50C, and filled with a fluorocarbon liquid at 0.3-bar. The high gravity stimulates convection, while the low pressure liquid environment is ideal for 2-phase cooling of Gearhead processors. The vecs are able to "overclock" their processors with such potent refrigeration available, which is a stimulating experience as their thoughts move faster. Assorted recreational activities like sculpting, nanoforge operation, and starlifting simulation are present. The resort had financial difficulties within a few years of construction because many Gearheads preferred stimulation from their actual jobs than in a resort, but Jacuzzi has become popular with Ghosts and Sparkies who use the facility for conferences on friendship group construction projects.

Nova: Nova is a Known Net nexus that generates substantial foreign currency revenue for Gearhead. This is an unusual structure with some resemblance to a Symmes World 25,000 kilometers in diameter, and is a planet-scale computronium mass several hundred times more massive than the average M-brain. It orbits 550AU from 51 Ophiuchi, serving as an outer shepherd mass to the system's dust cloud. The structure gets its name from its hollow interior, which is ablaze across the electromagnetic spectrum with transmissions. The interior mounts dozens of commgauge wormholes arranged to transmit directly to each other. Between wormhole mounts, the interior surface is a dense fractal forest of multispectral transmitters for the overlying shell of computronium. The world's 5,000-kilometer thick shell is mostly computronium, offering storage and processors for data, sophtware, and virch worlds passing through the Nexus. The low gravity surface is covered with all manner of white-hot radiators to handle the computronium's waste heat.

Nova's unusual design is due to paranoia by the Gearhead vecs about malware and virtual subversions. While transapient secdats have been adequate to handle threats to date, the shellworld is designed for a couple of worst case scenarios. Should one or more of the wormholes destabilize, the shell might contain or moderate the energy release. And if a blight began threatening Nova, its sensitive mass streams are designed to cease operations and allow the world to implode (probably triggering wormhole failure, too.)

Pantheon: This large (6 Jovian masses) J-brain forms an inner shepherd to 51 Ophiuchi's dust cloud and hosts the polysophont S4 chief administrator of REoC. The J-brain earned its tongue-in-cheek name because it previously hosted numerous S2 and S3 administrators who had transitioned from the Doyens.

Zodiacal Belt: "Zodiac Belt" is a somewhat misleading name appropriated by Gearhead for its inner dust belt and the protoplanets within it. The dense dust cloud extends up to 4AU from 51 Ophiuchi before ending at a break created by Pantheon. Inside it are eleven red hot proto-planetary cores, none over 300,000 years old or 0.2 terrestrial masses, surrounded by a swarm of unconsolidated asteroids still hot with aluminum-26 decay. Violent impacts are sustaining the dust cloud despite the ongoing planetary formation. The situation was dynamically unstable and would have finished condensing into a handful of planets within a few million years, but Project Initiation has halted that process. The vecs prefer not to let all that useful material drop into planetary gravity wells.

Nova (Gearhead)
Image from Steve Bowers
The M-Brain Nova is a hollow Symmes' World structure, and filled with highly luminous processors. Nova also acts as a shepherding object for the outer reaches of the protoplanetary cloud.
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Development Notes
Text by Mike Miller
Initially published on 13 November 2018.