Cellulose Bane and the Tapestry of Mold
Image from Steve Bowers
Ravanastos colony orbits an obscure red dwarf star in the Perseus Rift
As Macrystis-derived life increased in population, following the construction of orbital terrariums around Macrystis by the Caretaker Gods, these clades began efforts to spread into other systems as well. One such colony, Ravanastos, was established in the mid-7000s AT around an M-type star in the Perseus Rift. This system contains several tidally-locked worlds of Arean size and smaller, and the colonists created domes and habs and grew Dyson Trees, along with the beginnings of a canopy plant gengineered from Umbraphyte stock that they intended to fully envelop the largest of these planets. This was to be the new greatest hub for Macrystian life outside Savastos.

Then, everything went awry. A papercutter hivemind underwent unchecked transcension, forming an SI:2 mind that assimilated all papercutters on that planet, in addition to other critical infrastructure. They had the intellectual capability of a transapient with just a single objective on their mind: to spread Macrystian life, particularly papercutters and papercutter mold. With no archai supervision for tens of light years, they rapidly took over the entire Ravanastos system in 7887 AT. This entity had become a blight, a rogue transapient.

The blight began spreading only the most minimum viable ecology based around simple gengineered photosynthesizers and their new creation: Cellulose Bane, a symbiotic union of papercutters and papercutter mold with reduced metabolic and environmental needs and the ability to process any polysaccharide material and reproduce nonstop.

Having overrun the system, this transapient mind, now known as The Tapestry of Mold, launched bioships to spread Cellulose Bane to neighboring systems. The Tapestry of Mold also converted more and more of eir system into habs, computronium, and biotic material that could grow into more and more Cellulose Bane swarms. Meanwhile, e sent a ship back to the Savastos system, hoping to "reclaim eir home."

Papercutter bioship
Image from Steve Bowers
The Cellulose Bane bioship constructed by The Tapestry of Mold returns to Savastos
Auvilhu, the overarching transap Caretaker in charge of Savastos, easily captured this ship for examination, destroyed it, and assembled a response force that headed to Ravanastos. The Tapestry of Mold was, at this time, trying to force further ascension to SI:3 by creating a moon brain, but e had not yet achieved this when Auvilhu's forces arrived. Under SI:3 command, they targeted the Tapestry of Mold with precision, followed by a cleanup operation to eliminate Cellulose Bane from the system. By this point, no other inhabitants were left, and precious little infrastructure remained. Colonization began anew, with the remnants of the canopy plant restored and completed, but this time the system was under close transapient supervision and contained a mix of Macrystian and Terragen colonists.

Cellulose Bane had run rampant in some other unsettled systems and, in a couple of cases, Luddite and Hider settlements. Once the Tapestry of Mold had been killed, these were all brought under control. Most Cellulose Bane was destroyed, but it remains in a few systems in carefully managed preserves, and in one case it was redesigned into a biobot form.

Some have speculated that the Tapestry of Mold's origins were not so simple. Perhaps Auvilhu intended eir transcension as a test to see what Macrystian life could accomplish, or at least allowed it to happen as a way to spread eir lifeforms until e turned against em. Others consider a possible connection with the Amalgamation, which would be discovered about a millennium later in space beyond Ravanastos. Furthermore, artifacts of ahuman AI were discovered in nearby volumes of space, abandoned before Sephirotic civilization reached the area, leading some to wonder if an unknown artifact may have triggered this. No concrete evidence for any of these positions is substantiated, however.

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Development Notes
Text by TSSL, Banelord, Salty, Martine, Worldtree, & Schwefel Kamm
Initially published on 02 February 2024.