Ran (Epsilon Eridani) - History
AEgir and spacecraft
An Eridanus League System Ship and a freighter in orbit around Eldir, a moon of Ægir.
For more details about the Ran system, see this page.


Table of Contents: History

313 - 331: The New Worlds Project
491 - 572: Three Colonization Efforts
572 - 595: Silence Falls
587: The Outpost Treaty
595 - 770: The Spring at Ran
770 - 896: The River of Stars
896 - 1292: : Solsys Recontact Period
1292 - 1557: In Full Bloom
1557 - 2165: The Profound Minds
2165 - 2692: The Agree To Disagree Reformation
2692 - 4450: The Ransinshii Union
4450 - 4650: The Version War Period
4650 - 7050: The Ægir J-Brain - initial stages
7050 - 9000: A new era of planetary engineering
9000 - Current Era: The emergence of new virtual Xeno Factions at Ran

The New Worlds Project

Along with Nova and Gatlida, Ran was included as one of the three primary targets of the New Worlds Project, an international consortium that at its peak consisted of some 23 nations and tens of megacorps. A probe, the Otto Struve, was launched in 250 AT. Similar to the Giordano Bruno, its sibling probe that would be sent to Nova 15 years later, the Otto Struve was designed to survey the system in order to prepare for biont colonization. Interest in the colonization of the system evaporated when in 331 (probe time), the probe stopped transmitting back to Solsys in the middle of interstellar space. Many similar disappearances of early probes were later found to be caused by ahuman trojans, which allowed ahuman aioids to establish their civilizations at the destination system, but in this case it is more likely it was simply destroyed by some wandering debris too large for its shield to deal with. Despite Ran being a more favorable target for human colonization than Nova, the failure of this initial probe proved to be a major setback, and the New Worlds Project decided to dedicate its funds to the colonization of Nova instead. Several mining corporations would later raise the possibility of sending another probe to the system, but none came into fruition.

Three Colonization Efforts

Over a hundred years later, the Cisluno-Gengineer cold war was starting to heat up, and the relations between the Council of Earth and the Martian Union deteriorated. As tension between the three superpowers of the Solar System intensified, all of them had their eyes set upon the same system - Ran.

In the decades following the launch of the Gengineer Republic's first interstellar colonization mission, Advance, many eyes in the Jovian polity had turned to focus on the next. This time spearheaded by the Fusionists, the Kelkemesh (named after the protagonist of the popular Genetekker-produced virch adaptation of the old Earth epic Gilgamesh) would be capable of carrying some 26,000 sophonts and a full suite of gengineering and genetic therapy equipment on an interstellar voyage significantly faster than the previous ship. The exact reasons Ran was selected seemed to have been lost to time - many theories were put forward, including the presence of the gas giant planet which strongly resembled Jupiter, and the genetic information wealth that could be found in the biosphere at Bara and Unn.

Image from Steve Bowers
Unn, a world with an anoxic atmosphere and a primitive microbial biosphere

At the Cislunar Alliance, widespread interest in the colonization of Ran was eventually renewed by the launch of the Tsiolkovsky. A consortium of organizations, including influential megacorps, prestigious scientific institutes, and powerful military cliques, came together to assemble an interstellar colony mission to this star. Each of the participating organizations provided representatives who made up the 22,000 crewmembers that would travel to Ran aboard the Mayari. Among the colonists, their ultimate goals vary - some were interested in studying the xenobiota, others were interested in exploiting resources of this resource-rich system, and the more militant ones wanted to make sure that Ran did not fall into Genetekker hands.

Meanwhile, the Martian Union was also putting together its own mission in secret. Their ship, Cinnabar, was crewed by some 13,000 people, all of them tweaks developed to reduce the mission's cost and complexity, and improve survivability. Sponsored in no minor part by the various entities involved in the terraformation of the planet, the mission's stated objectives, aside from the establishment of a sustainable colony under the proud Martian Union banner, were to study lifeforms in the Ran system and beam useful information back to aid the ongoing terraformation of the planet, as well as serving as a test bed for various key technologies mostly developed by native Martian corporations, but in a way it was also a PR stunt; the Martian Union also hoped that the mission would help forge a sense of pride among the Martians, despite the complaints made by many observers, disparaging the project as 'a waste of funds and time'.

In 491, the Gengineer Republic became the first of the three to launch their mission. All that the Cislunese and the Martians knew was constructed from fragmentary bits gleaned from Genetekker sources and propagandas, and the signature created by the interaction between the starship and the boostbeams. They knew the ship was large, strongly implying that the ship was, indeed, crewed. Rumors about the motives of the mission ranged from normal colonization endeavors, scientific curiosity, to even military reasons. Whatever the exact reason was, the launch of this mission prompted both the Cislunar Alliance and the Martian Union to speed up the launch of their own expeditions. The Mayari was launched in 497, while the Cinnabar was launched in 504.

Image from The Astronomer
Himinglaeva, a cold gas giant at the edge of the Ran system. Later converted into a Jupiter-brain.

Silence Falls

Between 572 and 573, all three ships received the news of the cataclysm of unprecedented scale that was unfolding back at Solsys - the Technocalypse. These final messages were then followed by dead silence as GAIA took control of all interstellar communication lasers within the Solar System.

Shock and disbelief struck the skeleton crews that were awake at the moment. The world they knew and loved was destroyed. The colonists of all three missions had departed from Solsys with high hopes, regarding themselves as pioneers to a faraway star, where they would establish the foundation of a new civilization and enable more to follow on the tracks they had paved. The Technocalypse ended all these dreams - as words flowed in, describing the horrors of rogue neumann swarms, the vicious black rot, and ruthless malwares ravaging worlds after worlds, habitats after habitats, the resulting chaos and economic nightmare that plagued the entire system, and occasionally even confirmations of the death of some of the colonists' loved ones - reality began to settle in.

After recovering from a brief period of shock and sadness, the three ships soon realized, as their respective mission control had informed them prior to the fall, that all they had left were the two other spacecrafts from their rival polities, as well as the fourth colonial vessel known as the Mabugana, which departed much later than their own. The three ships, after varying degrees of internal debate, decided to contact each other first in hope of establishing truce, as no one, aside from some Cislunese military hardliners and radical Genetekkers, were interested in fighting a futile war for their now-gone home polity. These first contacts went relatively well, considering how each group viewed the other two rather dimly. As communications became more regular, animosity among crewmembers in the active shift gradually faded away.

When the subsequent shifts woke up to learn the news of the Technocalypse, their reactions were that of shock and despair similar to the first shift. However, there was already some occasional communication between the three ships, helping to dispel the prejudice each group had on the others, and in addition, the preceding crew shift in general had become more tolerant of the presence of the other two missions. All factors encouraged a slow but steady drift towards acceptance - as time went on, many crewmembers of the three missions came to generally view the other two in a better light - not as enemies or competitors, but as fellow living, feeling sophonts affected by the loss of home. Of course, this view wasn't shared by everyone, and occasionally rifts would flare up, resulting in incidents, although fortunately none ended with disastrous results.

Communication attempts were made with the Mabugana in 585, but the ship was unresponsive.

The Outpost Treaty

As the arrival of the Kelkemesh at Ran drew close, there was pressure for an agreement to be decided upon in order to prevent future conflicts. Since the three ships were separated by light months-wide gaps, communication between the ships would be severely hampered by latency. As per the suggestion of a diplomat named Yae and eir colleagues aboard the Cislunese expedition, the crew of the Kelkemesh and the Cinnabar each wrote a negotiation agent, a lightweight artificial intelligence program just smart enough to negotiate the terms with the Cislunese, and sent them to the Mayari in order to speed up the talks. When a draft was drawn, the Mayari would transmit said draft back to the other two ships, which would make amendments to both the draft and the program itself, before starting the cycle again if at least one party did not accept the draft. After many revisions, the meeting concluded around four years later, resulting in a treaty known as the Outpost Treaty.

The Outpost Treaty established, among several other things, the land claim procedure. Under the Outpost Treaty, all parties were free to establish colonies in the Ran system, except for some special zones like Bara, Unn, and the volume interior to Dufa's orbit. The announcement of the establishment of a new colony, including its location, was required in order for it to be considered valid. For colonies attached to a celestial body, as long as the colony can prove that it had become self-sufficient, the surrounding area encompassed by a spherical volume (or a territory bubble) 10 kilometers in radius would be granted to it (if this area encompasses more than half of the body, the entire object would become territory of the colony). In case of overlapping territory bubbles, priority would be given to the first colony to qualify.

Another notable component was the environmental impact regulations. Aside from the more standard resource extraction rules (to prevent uncontrolled strip mining of the system), the fragile xenobiota also presented another contentious issue. Opinions vary from one colonist to another, but most views could be grouped in two major categories: one believed the Terragens should leave the planet alone, the other thought scientific expeditions to study lifeforms of the planet were fine. In the end, both Bara and Unn's spheres of influence were designated as exclusion zones, regions which would become regulated by a committee consisting of scientists from all three expeditions. Finally, any operation that would significantly alter a celestial body could only be proposed by polities which directly inhabit the world, and must receive approval from the majority of other 'stakeholders'. Outsiders may voice their opinion, but the decision of the natives takes precedence.

Other topics covered by the treaty included standards for interplanetary communications, traffic, and interactions, as well as more usual interpolity agreements such as trade regulations and customs, among others.

Finally, the Outpost Treaty provided a guideline on interactions between different polities. Hoa Van Huynh, one of the diplomats, summarized this section as 'the heart of the treaty', consisting of a broad acceptance of diversity coupled with a strict code forbidding aggression between polities. This would become one of the core tenets governing the society of Ran for the next millennium.

Ran Hope Flag
Image from The Astronomer
The first flag of the Ran Outpost, in use from 595 to 1006.
  • =The Spring at Ran=
In 595, the Kelkemesh became the first mission to arrive at the system. They would soon be followed by the Mayari and the Cinnabar in 603 and 607, respectively. Upon arrival, each group diverted their starships toward locations of their choice, where the first colonies and infrastructures would be constructed. The three groups would eventually develop into the first three polities of Ran: the Federal Republic of Xinju (Genetekker), the Bluesky Confederacy (Cislunese), and the Republic of Olivine (Martian). In the first few decades, there were a few brief moments when tension returned, usually caused by terrorism incidents perpetrated by radical groups. Those violent movements and ideologies gradually died off as time passed, partially aided by the rise of countercultures promoting greater cultural integrations. By 670, under the auspices of the Ran Outpost, the intergovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring that the Outpost Treaty was upheld at all times, the relationships between the three cultures had become peaceful for the most part, scientific research and technological developments had restarted, and everyone was hopeful about the future, especially the prospect of re-establishing Terragen civilization one day.

In 640, the Mabugana finally opened communications with the colonies within the system. Concerns about the exact nature of this colony vessel partially subsided as the previously silent ship introduced itself as a colony mission departing from Mars. However, details in the transmission indicated that the mission intended to colonize Unn, which was designated as an exclusion zone under the Outpost Treaty. This was perhaps the first major diplomatic problem the Ran Outpost faced. Many suggestions regarding how to enforce the rule and divert the Mabugana's attention away from the planet were put forward (including humorous ones such as transmitting false information massively inflating the dangers of the local biosphere). In the end, the Ran Outpost decided to use a combination of offering help, including free supplies and information should they choose to settle down elsewhere in the system, and a threat of destruction of the ship if it ever attempted to head towards Unn. The Mabugana, after some delay, begrudgingly accepted the offer, and settled down in the First Ran Belt after its arrival in 675. There, they would develop into a polity known as the Socialist Republic of Tasakanna.

The arrival of the Mabugana marked the beginning of a long train of seven additional ships fleeing the disaster-stricken Sundering era Solsys that would be trickling into the system for the next two centuries, starting with the Bismilla in 744. The combined population of all these subsequent ships was almost 150,000 people. The amount of new arrivals, which contained ships destined for Ran itself as well as those redirected from Nova, cemented Ran as the most populous extrasolar system during the Sundering. The sheer number and diversity of the arriving immigrants were bad news; many of the refugee groups were distrustful of each other and of the Outpost itself, and the resulting friction threatened to destabilize the system once again. Unwilling to let the peace they worked so hard for go down in flames, the Outpost attempted to convince the disparate refugees to coexist with each other. While some of the early attempts ended up in failure and occasionally even resulting in violence, over time the Outpost was able to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge from experience and the refugees. As years flew by, its diplomats became more and more adept, and its ever-growing peacekeeper force eventually came to be viewed highly by many groups in the system.

The fear of malware attacks kept most early attempts to contact other star systems at bay, and was the primary reason Ran never tried to contact Solsys prior to the founding of the Eridanus League. However, in 652, the first interstellar communication attempt was made with the polities of Nova. The message included the proposal to establish information streams between the two systems. In 664, the long-awaited response arrived along with the first bits of information from Nova's internet. This success gave a much needed morale boost to the citizens of Ran, and brought forward a large wave of additional attempts to contact other neighboring stars and even starships en route to their destinations.

Several additional polities were established, mostly in the Ran system, following the arrival of the refugee arkships. Notable ones include the Confederacy of Tunro, a network of three habitats around Hefring with unusually high levels of interdependency on each other compared to other colonies of its era, and the Queendom of Kosmos, a unique case of a polity that was founded on the starship. In the meanwhile, the warming of relations between the three original factions continued, as exemplified by the establishment of the Amity, a collection of dome habitats on the satellites of Ægir open to the citizens from the three polities.

The River of Stars

Eridanus League Flag
Image from The Astronomer
The final variant of the first flag of the Eridanus League, in use from 846 to 1006.

Starting in the 750's, the system internet was bustling with discussions about the possibility of the establishment of an interstellar union, under which information could be freely traded. The idea was sufficiently popular that many governments began to seriously discuss the possibility of the establishment of such an entity. The system of agreements and protocols established by the Outpost Treaty, which had evolved over centuries of diplomacy, were deemed sufficiently effective, and were used as the basis for the River of Stars Charter, whose broadcast marked the founding of the Eridanus League in 770. However, nobody could see how an interstellar empire could be held together, and the solution that was agreed upon in the end was to simply rely on a combination of the common interests of the members in each system to stay connected, and the presence of peacekeeper military forces sent to the member systems in case of emergency. The final proposal established the Eridanus League as a new organization, with the Ran Outpost becoming a part of.

Within the Ran system, 3 non-signatory polities immediately joined the League: the Republic of Balsangi, the Queendom of Kosmos, and the Islamic Republic of New Maghreb. More colonies were established over the next few hundred years, and many among those would become members of the Eridanus League. Examples include the Ronin Net (founded in 777 as a polity of servant vecs who survived the Technocalypse without their masters), the Jainist Starclad colony Padma (which had expressed their interest in joining the League while they were still on their arkship Final Mission), and over 70% of the independent Ran Belt mining settlements founded prior to 945. Colonies which declined to join include the Eternal Zhuan and the Christian Watchtower Base.

The founding of the Eridanus League marked several changes in the community of Ran. Notably, there was a trend among the most well-established polities towards regearing its workforce towards the operation and/or expansion of advanced 'luxury' industries - bodymodding, Solsys Golden Age-level revitalization tech, uploading, and aesthetics ecosystem designing. In truth, all necessary information about these could be found in the databanks brought by the colony ships, especially those launched before the Technocalypse, and some of the polities that sprang from them already possessed limited capability to perform some of these by 770, but earlier on, most colonists, fewer in number and having more on their hands, were preoccupied with the development and maintenance of their settlement, and so these industries remained small and out of reach for all but the most affluent or important people. As the system infrastructures improved, the workload of the colonists related to these tasks subsided, and the focus shifted from ensuring survival to improving standard of life. In many cases it would take decades to even centuries for the polities of Ran to develop and expand these industries to the point where the cost became affordable for normal people without straining their social programs, but even early on the impact of the shift was apparent; starting from the 770s, population growth in many polities accelerated thanks to the use of population bombs, increased production of artificial wombs, parental vecs, and many governments promoting national population growth to remain competitive as the system economy evolve and diversify.

One side effect of the development of this technology was the growing economic inequality, as the richest nations were also those with the capability to utilize these advanced technologies. As the technological gap between the most developed and the least developed nations widened, many began to voice their concern regarding the potential external and internal conflicts that could result, citing various precedents that had happened in history in an attempt to spur the governments of the more developed nations to provide formal support for the less developed nations. In 816, the Socialist Republic of Tasakanna, apparently as part of its attempt to establish itself as a major power and provide balance against the influence of the original three nations, pledged to help support the smaller nations economically and technologically, signing free trade agreements with many younger nations (the grouping of which, plus the Socialist Republic itself, would later become branded as the Tasakanna bloc) and supporting its skilled workers looking to travel to these nations as advisers and educators. The three nations followed suit shortly after.

The River of Stars Charter was also broadcasted to every star and colony ship that Ran had made contact with. Responses from them began arriving in 781 with the expected decline from Nova. Through the communication streams established between the two stars, Ran was able to piece together the situation there - that Nova was embroiled in a cold war between two governments which would rather not become part of an interstellar union that would allow the continued existence of the other side. Several more responses would arrive, usually declining the offer. Eventually, the first good news arrived in the form of responses from the two ships bound for Keid, officially becoming the first Eridanus League members outside Ran. In the end, four star systems immediately accepted the invitation: Keid (40 Eridani), Gatlida (Epsilon Indi), Rajand (Lalande 21185), and Hamashta (p Eridani). Two more, Eunchong (Gliese 832) and Tiwa (Ross 128), initially rejected, but they would join later in the timeline.

The elation brought about by the success of the interstellar union did not last long, however. In 863, the inhabitants of Ran learned about the collapse of the New L4 civilization at Rajand. The information stream from that star soon faded away, and the following silence served as a cold reminder of the danger of their times. The people of Ran responded to this event with paranoia; in the rivers of information arriving at Ran in 870, they discovered a snippet from the Eta Consortium reporting an outbreak of malware apparently traced back to Sol. Once this piece of information became public, most groups in Ran immediately shut off communications with the Piazzi-Bessel system, much to the confusion of the people at the other star system, who had already dealt with the malware outbreak. Records from the era generally agreed that the adoption of the high tech lifestyles that were very vulnerable to the malwares, as made apparent by the Technocalypse itself, was the cause of this extreme reaction.

In 879, many colonies set up by several groups of Great Expulsion refugees, most of them members of the Tasakanna bloc, merged into a new polity known as the New Home League, which would later launch several colonization expeditions to Hroenn and the Second Ran Belt. Its population and economy grew at extremely high speeds, and it would go on to become one of the most remarkable polities in the early history of Ran.

Solsys Recontact Period

In 896, Ran reopened communications with the Solar System for the first time in hundreds of years, after decades of weighing the pros and cons, taking the increasing amount of reports of the improving situation in Sol into account. Along with the first bits of information was the invitation to the Eridanus League. Most polities within the system turned down the offer. In the end, the League gained a small amount of new members in the form of small polities, usually in the outer edge of the system. This effort was not in vain, however; one of these new members, the Republic of Haumea, would later serve as the Eridanus League's primary base of operation in Solsys.

In turn, Sol sent an invitation to their own interstellar organization, known as the Federation of Sophonts. Upon its arrival in 957, the entire system's internet became filled with discussions on whether they would join the Federation or not, and what the emergence of this new polity would mean for the League. Ultimately, the government of Ran declined the invitation. Despite never formally joining the First Federation, Ran and the Eridanus League as a whole were keen to seek closer ties with it, including receiving a number of FedReps and Federation Emissaries, and most importantly, information transfer agreements; over the next few decades, information from all over the colonized space started pouring into the system. To accommodate for the scale of interstellar communications magnitudes larger than prior to the agreements, the Ran government embarked on a project to upgrade communication stations across the system to be able to handle more information load, as well as switching the comms standard to the Federation standard.

Many Ran ideologies, cultures, and traditions that evolved during the Sundering became heavily influenced, and in some cases even abandoned, by the endless streams of information that came with the recontact. Some polities were more cautious with the consumption of Federation media, and still their culture evolved in response to the change. In contrast to what the bitter remarks thrown out by the bemoaning nostalgics and critics of the time suggested however, the majority of the inhabitants of the time agreed that Ran benefited greatly from contact with the First Federation. One of the biggest upsides was the access to state-of-art technologies; by requesting assistance from the Federation and trading with its megacorps, Ran acquired many cutting-edge technologies and adapted them to existing infrastructure.

An example of technology that became impactful was the boostbeam. The upgrade of old boostbeam stations with more powerful versions from Solsys meant it became much easier for the Eridanus League to send their System Control Ships between their member systems. This served to solidify the organization's grip on these members and nudged the interstellar polity towards centralization, much to the Federation and its megacorps' chagrin. It also allowed much easier travel, whether within the system or between stars, especially when combined with biostasis enabling safer journeys for the passengers. Over time this led to large-scale migrations, which ultimately resulted in profound changes; most nations dramatically transformed, broke apart, or even completely dissolved while new ones were created, and many communities of people with similar interests spawned in large population centers, such as the orbits of Ægir and Hefring.

Another important technology made available was non-destructive uploading. Prior to this, Ran relied on old Solsys Golden Age-era Genetekker uploading technology which involved the destruction of the original brain. The new uploading technology proved to be very popular in some nations, which saw a large fraction of their populations going virtual, or at least creating backups. With the increased number of virtual sophonts came ascensions and transcensions; with help from the Federation, the first successful transcension in the Ran system happened in 1271, creating the Eridanus League's first indigenous S:1 entity known as Amhan. It was followed by tens of other attempts in the Ran system, and many more elsewhere in the League. The next successful S:1 entities were Kan'ning (ascended 1282), the Inquisitive Nara (transcended 1289) and the First Ran Belt Safety Network (transcended 1296).

Early on, the Ran Outpost government was wary of the megacorps from the First Federation, and was interested in limiting their influence within at least the Ran system, likely because they saw them as both a threat to their capital system's stability, and a hindrance in the development of their own economic potentials. This was reflected in the system's regulations, which were favored native enterprises and were more limiting for the foreign megacorps than the neighboring system Keid (which was practically a free trade zone), for example. In the short term, this resulted in detrimental effects on the system economy, and few Federation megacorps thrived. One of them was Wenxi Han Nanotech, which would eventually spawn the Fadong Innovative Solutions. In the long term, however, this helped the establishment of Ranese megacorporations, some of which grew to be capable of competing with their Federation counterparts.

By 1290, Ran's population was at 26.1 million people. Roughly 1.9 million of them were virtual sophonts, mostly uploaded Ran-natives. A trickle of virtual migrants arrived from Solsys or Nova via the primitive Lightways transceivers. In this early period, before the development of engeneration, virtual sophonts could only exist inside VR simulations, although some were downloaded into robotic bodies.

The system saw the arrival of three additional Solsys starships - Qingmin, Kisalara, and Taje Savis, the former bringing a contingent of Wenxi Han Nanotech employees tasked with the upgrading of system infrastructures, and the latter two were colony ships sent by Tokera Spaceliners and Transtellar Tours, respectively. In the system's political landscape, there was a trend of power balance shift from the stalling powers of Ægir towards the polities of the Second Ran Belt and Hefring, and by the end of this period, the list of the most powerful polities in the system changed to the burgeoning New Home League and the dramatically transformed Federal Republic of Xinju. Up until 1292, the Ranese transapients had little interaction with the modosophont population.

In Full Bloom

Image from The Astronomer
The flag of the Ran Outpost and the Ran system in general, used during the Eridanus League.

As the number of transapients within the Ran system was projected to continue to grow along with the population of the Eridanus League, the interstellar polity decided to follow the First Federation's steps. In 1292, the Eridanus League passed the Transapient Relations Act, signaling its alignment with the transapients. Under this legislation, the League established formal relations with many of the native transapients within its member systems. The League continued to be operated by modosophonts for the moment, but now with advice and guidance from significantly more sophisticated transapients.

A new generation of system cultures emerged during this window. Most were a synergy of Solsys customs, surviving native traditions, and ideas imported from other members of the League. Principal among them was the emergence and widespread adoption of Bojiangnese, an offshoot of an early Federation era Solsys Chinese dialect originally spoken by members of the Fadong Innovative Solutions that gradually incorporated over time elements from Ran-native languages, as well as languages from elsewhere in the Eridanus League and the First Federation. Spirituality also saw some developments - Etodism, along with some Sundering era Ran-native religions such as the Church of Mono and imported religions such as Keid animism and Beneficence, were experiencing meteoric rise in popularity, while increased contact with other systems resulted in founding of new schools of thought such as Punabbhava Theravada Buddhism, which developed from the many past attempts at reconstruction of pre-Technocalypse Theravada Buddhism through ideas from surviving Theravadin cultures, missionary centers, and databanks scattered across the inhabited space. In the field of entertainment, a combination of the traditional Kosmos-style virch and Federation influences enjoyed massive success. One of them, an interactive virch series known as Natta'mbary Flyover, introduced the interstellar audience to one of the Sundering Era Ran's most popular gengineered plants, the Festival Bloom.

The restrictive economic policies that prevailed in the Recontact period Ran were gradually loosened - but never completely went away - as the system gave rise to its own flavor of independent megacorps, such as Vishvakarma Manufacturing, Cowosono, Eridani Vision Incorporated, and Kanqishica Entertainment Media. Some of the earliest Federation megacorps to arrive in the system were colonization megacorps such as Jupiter Transystems and TakiCorb, which assisted the fledgling colonies at Dufa and the Third Ran Belt, some of the last locations in the system to become inhabited (aside from the off-limits Bara and Unn).

Following them in the early 14th century were biotech megacorps like Bassim Biosolutions and Jovian Ecotech, which gleefully adhered to the extremely strict planetary protection guidelines in exchange for a chance to get their hands on genetic samples of the local planetary microbes. Under the Federation's Genome Ownership Act of 1212, which allowed its own megacorps to patent alien organism genomes, these biotech corporations were looking to claim ownership of jackpot species - any organism that turned out to have useful properties - and establish monopolies within the Federation market. The Eridanus League's biotech megacorps were not pleased by this development; as non-Federation megacorps, the Federation did not recognize their patents on the alien genomes, which meant over time their trades with Federation members would become increasingly restricted. By petitioning the League government in 1344, they succeeded in making it agree to lock the Federation biotech megacorps out of Bara and Unn until the First Federation agreed to revise the Genome Ownership Act to include foreign megacorps as well. The incident ended peacefully, but not without creating some animosity between the League and the Federation. Several similar intellectual property conflicts arose sporadically over this period.

The Profound Minds

By 1557, the uppermost levels of the government of the Eridanus League shifted from being run by modosophont with transapient oversight into being fully run by transapients. This came as no surprise for the observers, well aware as they were of the clear trend towards increasing transapient involvement within the ruling body of the interstellar union that characterized the previous period. This period coincided with the weakening of the First Federation's ability to regulate the various exosystems and the megacorps, but the Eridanus League continued to maintain cordial relations with it, as it was still the League's biggest political, economic, and military partner - having together fended off the psychophager invasion of the Keid system in 1480.

Over this period, the League government began adopting more and more cultural unification policies and projects as a way to maintain cohesion in the rapidly changing environment. All these efforts would ultimately fail to keep the League from falling apart, but it did serve to entrench many cultural elements that would become characteristic of many post-Eridan cultures for the next thousand years. One of them was Hongshanism, a philosophical movement promoting respectful treatment of the non-living, especially massive objects. (The movement was inspired by the League's biosphere protection policy and Keid animism, and was named after the planet Unn, known as Hongshan during this era.)

As with the previous era, new megacorps arrived, did their business with the local powers, and occasionally brought new technologies. Once such technology was the engeneration technology, which allowed the system's virtual population to finally assume biological bodies. This also meant easier body swapping for bionts, giving rise to a new genre of fads - or rather, a dramatic change in the definition of the word 'clade', and how societies view it. A significant, and ever-increasing, fraction of the biont population of the Ran system started to regularly switch their body forms as decades come and go, bringing in new trends. The practical role of interplanetary spacecrafts would, over the next few thousand years, slowly be reduced to establishment of new habitats with engeneration stations, and to transport the ever-dwindling number of sophonts who didn't subscribe to the pattern identity theory.

Towards the end of this era, Ran became significantly more religious. Etodism reached its peak popularity within the Ran system, at around three hundred million adherents, especially within the various cities of the New Home League.

The Agree To Disagree Reformation

As the power of the First Federation waned, the power vacuum it left behind became filled with many powerful independent transapients, polities, megacorps, houses, and other sorts of factions. As new arrangements replaced the centuries old order that formed the environs of the ancient interstellar union, the entirety of the Eridanus League, modosophonts and S1 transapients alike, felt the shockwave. By 2000, there were already clear signs that the transapients and polities associated with them were diverging from each other. Still, the post First Federation environment was also a dangerous and chaotic time, when some selected groups of modosophonts freely wielded transapient technologies, occasionally to disastrous effects, as exemplified by the news of rogue neumann disasters that periodically rocked the internet of Ran.

The collapse of the Federation in 2099 was the final turning point for the disintegrating Eridanus League, by this time having already lost many of its members, especially those in more distant systems such as Eunchong, Tiwa, Qimira, and Hamashta, and increasingly seen as a shackle by the remaining ones. When the League declared its intention to align with Solsys in 2165, it met far bigger resistance from its member polities than expected; not wanting to follow the Federation's path, the government had to concede. Still, the damage was done, and most polities seceded soon after. The various and disparate colonies which had joined the Eridanus League more than a thousand years earlier had all been small, struggling systems that gained great benefit from contact and support; but now they were larger, more stable, and considerably more sophisticated - they no longer needed to band together to survive.

Motivated by the need for security, the remnants of the League discussed ways to reinvent their relationship to suit the current situation. The end result was a far more decentralized polity; the central government was all but gone, leaving behind only a few essential departments, which became collectively known as the Common Departments. Some commentators amusingly pointed out that this was actually closer to what the Eridanus League originally started out as. The informal name of the new agreement was the Agree to Disagree Reformation, a name which took on different meanings in each of the signatory systems.

The Ransinshii Union

As Ran's relationship with the other League worlds became less important, the relationship with Terranova became more significant. The Terranova empath culture had joined the League in 1080, but the Foundation megacorporation had always been less welcoming. After the breakup of the First Federation this relationship began to change, and the Foundation started to become more sympathetic towards the Epsilon system. Terranova was an early adopter of engenerator technology, using the Lightways transmitters to beam biont mindstates from world to world and system to system, then download them into biologically-constructed bodies. A transceiver station was constructed on the second largest moon of Himinglaeva, sending people between Terranova and Ran, and onwards to the Linn-Ent colony worlds.

Terranova Foundation modosophonts, transapients and empai began to commute between the two systems, only twelve light years apart. Working with the Profound Minds of the Ran system, they began to establish a new system organisation in the Epsilon system, building infrastructure (particularly a star-lifting rig and computronium nodes) for their mutual use. This new system organisation became known as the Rensin Union. By 2900 the first wormhole (to Tau Ceti) had been constructed, and the second stargate (to Keid) was completed before the Consolidation Age dawned.

Both the Conver Ambi and the Terran Federation had embassies in the Ran system, and were assigned a substantial moon of Ægir each; but the Rensin Union became increasingly close to the Non-Coercive Zone ethos in this era, and adopted the Concord Ontology. During the Second Consolidation War the Rensin forces blockaded the Conver embassy-moon, and after the war they helped the Ambi cyborgs to become rehabilitated into the new paradigm. Most of the ex-Conver Ambi citizens joined the Rensin Union, although some emigrated to the Terran Federation or even to Metasoft.

The Version War period

The Version War began as a localised dispute in 4450, but soon escalated. As hostilities increased, the transapients at Ægir and Himinglaeva began to convert their suprashells into phased-array emitters capable of projecting powerful defensive beam against intruders. Meanwhile the Rensin Union constructed large emissive structures near the star for a similar purpose; these re-used the old star-lifting rigs which had been previously utilised to obtain mass for the wormhole connections. Deep space sensors around the system, linked by comm-gauge wormholes to the central system, were capable of giving advanced warning of approaching hostile craft.

Because the surrounding volume was so well-defended, the Ran system was largely spared from the conflict when it erupted. A small number of Solar Dominion autonomous warcraft tested the defences on occasion, and were targeted by phased-array beams and either destroyed or repulsed. A significant number of Rensin Union warcraft left the system to join the Terranova Foundation Mercenary Force, and these saw action in various parts of the Rimwards Middle Regions.

In 4490 the local wormhole archai closed the wormholes to traffic, following the destruction of the Danab-Gantor stargate. After this time the warfleets on both sides of the conflict were forced to travel via normal space whenever they wanted to attack a target, and after this time Ran was effectively isolated from the war.

The Ægir J-Brain - initial stages (4650-7050)

Aegir - early stages of J-Brain construction
Image from Steve Bowers
The early stages of J-Brain construction around the planet Ægir

The entity inhabiting Ægir ascended to the 4th toposophic level in 5001, and seceded amicably from the NoCoZo some time later. After the conflict of the Version War a small but significant number of archai in the Inner Sphere chose to be independent rather than adhere to any particular Sephirotic empire. This new entity, apparently the result of fusion between several S:3 entities which had formerly inhabited this world, adopted the name Million Worlds Surge, and stove to build links with a wide variety of entities within the Inner Sphere, regardless of affiliation.

Million Worlds Surge constructed a number of complex and innovative virtual cybercosms within eir processing shell, some of which were designed to simulate the future evolution of the microbial biospheres on the planets Unn and Bara. Many experts in xenobiology were invited to observe these simulations, and to offer advice and suggestions where necessary; many of these experts chose to copy themselves and merge with Million Worlds Surge, in order to assist with this project more efficiently.

A new era of planetary engineering

Bara (with and without cloud layer). This bathypelagic world had a microbial oceanic biosphere when first discovered.

Not all of the xenobiologists attracted to Ran were persuaded to merge with Million Worlds Surge, however. Some were more interested in the existing real-life biospheres on Unn and Bara. From 7050 onwards these specialists became involved with a new project; the acceleration of planetary evolution on these two planets. When first examined Bara was an oceanic planet with a few small islands and a dense, featureless cover of haze, while Unn was an azotic world with seas covering about half of the surface. Neither planet had developed past the stage of anoxic microbial lifeforms yet. The Eridanus League had started preparations for terraformation of both these worlds, but did not reach the stage of implementation; and the Rensin Union vetoed the idea, while starting research into a speculative program of acceleration which was itself also shelved by the Version War. Now this program was starting again, with the aim of producing a more advanced stage in the evolution of each planet without constraining that development towards an Earth-like condition.

During this time the gas giant Himinglaeva was also converted into a Jupiter Brain, and the entity within ascended to S:4 archailect status. This entity adopted the name Speck in the Universe, and in a surprise move opted to become affiliated to the Solar Organisation. The large amounts of waste heat given off by Million Worlds Surge and Speck in the Universe has encouraged the development of populous habitats on the moons of these worlds, several of which have adopted new names in the long history of the Ran system. For instance, Fimafeng became Kousa, Eldir became Xingan, and Gerd became Jince during the League period. Also present are numerous habitable megastructures and a scattering of S:3 computronium nodes.

The emergence of new virtual Xeno Factions at Ran

The virtual reality simulations of Unn and Bara inside the Ægir J-brain have produced a wide range of end results, some of which are lifeless, some include complex biospheres and some have produced novel forms of xenosophont.

Image from Steve Bowers
Some Shanu colonial organisms, virtually evolved xenosophonts derived from the biosphere of Bara.

One notable intelligent alien species produced in this fashion is the Shanu, colonial organisms which inhabit a version of Bara which has developed continent-sized floating rafts of vegetative autotrophs. The Shanu consist of multiple spaghetti-like strands, each strand being a separate organism which responds to its position in the colony by morphological changes adapting it to its role in locomotion, predation and digestion.

Image from Steve Bowers
An Azith, a virtually evolved xenosophont species derived from the biosphere of Unn

Another notable species is the Azith, from Unn; these evolved (within the accelerated timescale of the virtual cybercosm) from sessile filter feeders living in the littoral zone of the planet's many seas. These creatures have converted two of their tentacular arms into walking legs, and use the rest of their specialised tentacles for object manipulation, feeding and mating.

The Azith and the Shanu have made contact with representatives of the Terragen Sphere, and a number of each species have adapted artificial bodies appropriate to their form. Several of each species are closely involved with the planetary engineering of their respective (real-life) planets, which is ongoing; other members of these species have opted to explore the Terragen Sphere in general, and are in the early stages of creating new homeworlds for themselves on the Periphery.
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Development Notes
Text by The Astronomer and Steve Bowers 2021
With contributions by Rakuen07 : From an original article by M. Alan Kazlev including material by Aaron Hamilton, and later amended by QuertyYerty
Initially published on 04 May 2021.