Sonthaya (Ross 128 b)

Sonthaya, a world with a reclusive cybercosm.

From space, the complex mechosystems on this world appear as patches of different colours and textures

Sonthaya - Data Panel

SystemName: Tiwa
- Distance from Sol: 11.007 ly (J2000), 9.940 ly (10600 AT)
- Constellation: Virgo
StarNames: Tiwa, FI Virginis, Gliese 447 (GJ 447), HIP 57548, Ross 128
Physical characteristics:
- Mass: 0.176 x Sol
- Radius: 0.198 x Sol
- Luminosity: 0.00365 x Sol (bolometric)
- Temperature: 3,189 Kelvin
- Spectral type: M4 V
- Rotation period: 109 days
- Age: 9.45 billion years
1) Sonthaya: Videntian HydroTerrestrial LapiMinervan ConleThermal AquaGaian
Semi-major axis = 0.0496 AU, Orbital period = 9.8658 days, Eccentricity = 0.116, Mass = 1.40 x Earth, Radius = 1.095 x Earth
PlanetName: Sonthaya, Ross 128 b
Orbital characteristics:
- Semi-major axis: 7,420,000 km (0.0496 AU)
- Period: 9.8658 days
- Eccentricity: 0.116
Physical characteristics:
- Type: Videntian HydroTerrestrial LapiMinervan ConleThermal AquaGaian
- Mass: 8.36E+24 kg (1.40 x Earth)
- Radius: 6,978.7 km (1.095 x Earth)
- Density: 5,873 kg/m^3
- Mean surface acceleration: 11.46 m/s^2 (1.168 g)
- Rotation period: Tidally-locked
- Albedo: 0.274
- Mean surface temperature: 303 K
- Surface pressure: 41 kPa
- Composition: 97% N2, 1% CO2, 1% Ar, 1% other. Traces of CO.
Satellites: none
Population DemographicsPopulation: The cybercosm's population is estimated to be hundreds of billions, dwarfing the surface population, which numbers only 680,000.
Population breakdown (surface):
Modosophonts: 680,000
Sophont AIs: 410,000
- Vecs: 330,000
- Uploads: 50,000
- Aioids: 30,000
- Others: 700
Bionts: 270,000
- Tweaks: 130,000
- Neogens: 110,000
- Others: 30,000
S1: 1 (Garuda)

Sonthaya ('twilight' in Thai) is a planet in the Tiwa system (Ross 128). It was originally a tidally-locked Hephaestian world slightly larger than Earth. The planet was never terraformed, but instead was gradually transformed into a full-fledged botworld, divided into various different mechanomes.

Sonthaya was the destination of the Mingkwan, a Southeast Asian autonomous probe mission that was launched in 502 AT. During its 111-year long journey, the probe received the news of the Technocalypse. With eir mission control destroyed, and after considerable thought, the ship AI decided to create a vec colony using the backup personalities stored aboard eir ship. The Mingkwan arrived at Ross 128 in 617 AT, and set about creating its new civilization.

In 642, the beamrider pathfinder ship Karl Schroeder, one of the pre-Technocalypse missions launched from Sol to build cycler routes to nearby stars, arrived and established a colony in the local asteroid belt. The colony eventually constructed a functioning beamrider station and established contact with the nascent Deeper Convenant, formally joining that civilization a century later. The colony enjoyed generally cordial relations with the vecs of Sonthaya, although the interests of the two groups rarely overlapped.

In 681, the Nanyang, one of GAIA's arkships carrying 30,000 passengers was launched toward Ross 128, arriving in 737. The colonists were alarmed to find that the planet was already populated by a society of autonomous machines. The vecs, however, were more than happy to welcome the new arrivals, and after several years of uneasiness and reluctance, some of the human colonists decided to join the vec colony or establish their own on Sonthaya. Others traveled outwards and set up small hab-based colonies scattered across the rest of the system. The colony ship itself left the system in 1185 AT, carrying with it some of the more paranoid members, reaching Gliese 783 in 1317 AT to found the conservative world of Lok Mai.

The large colony ship Utnapishtim-6 reached the Tiwa system in 1224 AT. The Utnapishtim-6 was a speculative venture of the Star Pilgrim Corporation, which sent colony missions to many systems during the Early Federation period. Most of the new colonists opted to join the existing colonies elsewhere in the system, or more often build space habitats to their own custom designs. A small number of colonists employed genetic engineering to adapt to the hazardous environment of Sonthaya, becoming radically tweaked or completely neogenic bionts.

Image from Steve Bowers
Pendara, a Neptunian type world in the Tiwa system

In 1313, the Tiwa system became a member of the Eridanus League, joining just as the League was becoming increasingly disunited. Although some, like the inhabitants of Arun and many orbitals around Suvarnabhumi were very eager to participate, the League's influence was never strong elsewhere, including Sonthaya. During this early period, two waves of Eridani colony ships from Sol visited Tiwa. A number of Sonthayans joined the colonization effort, but most were disinterested. These few colonists would later form their own Southeast Asian-influenced cultural groups in Yoson Confederacy systems such as Chara and Yosonia.

Because of its high irradiance, tidal force-induced geological activity, and the vec population who opposed the plan, Sonthaya was never terraformed, although lakes of liquid water were successfully created on the surface. By 1700, many areas were covered in various mechosystems, originally created by the vecs for recreational purposes, but later evolving on their own to become increasingly complex and exotic.

In the 22nd century, some of the vecs were developing an increasingly reclusive mindset. Most of the human colonists, seeing no future in living an embodied life, chose to join them by uploading their mindstates and moving into isolated virtual worlds located in underground computronium banks scattered across the planet's stable regions. The remaining embodied population gradually moved out of the planet, and their vacant habitats were over time claimed by immigrants, most of whom adopted Lo Tek lifestyles.

Sonthayan Mechosystem
Image from Alex Mulvey
A wire-tree in the Golden Mechosystem on Sonthaya, one of the most hazardous of the local mechanomes.
Due to subjective long-term isolation, the reclusive Sonthayan cybercosm cultures have become estranged from mainstream Terragen society while most of the vecs and genetically-modified bionts who inhabit the surface have adopted Lo Tek lifestyles. As a result, few newcomers choose to settle here in favor of the other worlds and habitats in the system.

The planet's mechosystem balance is maintained by an S1 animin, known as Garuda by the locals, although the entity does not use this name itself, or indeed any name at all.
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Development Notes
Text by The Astronomer
additional material by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 08 August 2019.