The Biovirate was a major empire of the 5th to 6th millennium in the Cygnus Sector of the Outer Volumes. It was the largest anthropist empire that has ever developed. Normally, strict anthropist societies are unable to develop into interstellar polities due to their AI limitations, but the Biovirate succeeded due to a mixture of incorporated blight and ex-Panvirttransapientech, opportunistic inconsistency, a homogeneous population and a certain amount of luck. It would have remained a footnote in history if it had not unleashed the tragic Cygnus Conflict and the Biovirate-Keter War during the Era of Fragmentation.
Rise of the Biovirate
The Biovirate emerged on the planet Pereira, an isolated world corewards of the Veil Nebula. It was colonized and terraformed by a longshot colony expedition launched during the early Age of Consolidation by the Troyansky Clade-Collective. It was not part of the Wormhole Nexus and had no contact with any of the other worlds, being largely an interplanetary society. It developed into a densely connected information society not unlike most Inner Sphere societies, suffering the same sociological instabilities and complexities. In 4544 AT it suffered a massive hypereconomic and social breakdown, causing the death of 2 billion inhabitants. In the wake of the disaster a very strong anti-AI sentiment rose up, and a form of anthropism developed into the dominant philosophy, chiefly inspired by Zoeific agitators, Bioprimacitist fundamentalism, and propaganda like Onekei Quent's Causes of Economic Recession, a webbook that made the author famous and stirred up enormous anti-aioid feeling with its simplistic analyses. Local AIs and vecs either fled, went underground or were killed. The higher toposophic factors responsible seem to have been either a post- or ex-Diamond Network or Panvirtuality blight, or a direct Panvirtuality or ex-Panvirtuality attack (authorities differ on details - for differing perspectives see Mind 21350 The Biovirate - a study in causes, and Jyba Mionphy Blights and Bionts); using the bionts as memetic vectors, and employing hyperbright ai viruses; there is no other way to explain how sapient grade bionts could overwhelm transapient ai.
Isolated from the Version War and the chaos of the Inner Sphere, and utilising Zoeific supplied organic-based tech (including huge vat-based biocomputers) married to transapientech "black boxes" of unknown design and either post-Diamond Network or eccentric Panvirt origin, the new ideology, variously known as Onekeism and New Economy, became entrenched in the political, media, and corporate status quo. It soon synthesised with Jevitism, the local bio-animist religion, and various Neo-Selectionist ideologies such as the Biodarwinics of Hab Neuhgbaer and his school, to form a belief system implying that biological evolution was the ultimate goal of the universe, that all societies have to compete in a galactic survival of the fittest, that AI and other artificial life was an aberration of the natural order, and that altruism was only possible within a single genetic clade. Under the talented and charismatic demagogue-scholar Carmon Jefrir Lapkei, the ideology, calling itself the Biovirate, consolidated its hold over Pereira in the 4700's and began a program of genetic homogenization and memetic engineering, as well as an aggressive interstellar colonization effort. While they forbade the use of hylotech AI, they made extensive use of many artificially limited DNA-computers and other sub-intelligent bio-systems.
In fact, much as was the case with some extreme post-genen and radical Zoeific clades, the Biovirate leadership was often plugged into, or even uploaded into, organic superbrains, although none seem to have gone as far as becoming world-spanning organisms, like the huge worldlet mothers of the faGen clade of Marquette Genen.
It is ironic that this militantly biont movement seems to have derived it's ultimate impetus and most potent technology from (apparently blight incorporated) "ahuman" ai sources, although it is unlikely that even the leading lights were aware of this, or could break the blight's memetic conditioning. Most of the transapientech was justified as being "Biovirate". The true higher toposophic manipulators have not been traced, or if they have, the archailects aren't saying.
The Biovirate Empire: A Relativistic Success Story
Over the next millennium, at the same period that the Inner Sphere was embarked on the task of rebuilding, and the establishment of the ComEmp, the Biovirate flourished, and expanded over 400 light-years in all directions. Despite being unable to develop a functioning wormhole network, they were able to establish a relativistic empire over a huge volume of space, 'cleansing' the region from evil AI influence. Historians have puzzled over how the Biovirate was able to achieve a relativistic empire at such a scale, something the First Federation had been unable to achieve even in a much smaller volume of space. But as scholarly analyses by authorities such as Academician Gaffey Loir Pharas, Peer Jily D. Bintarev, and the probability matrices and simulations of the Psychohistory Institute, this can be explained in terms of a number of unique factors; five in particular.
The first was the nature of the blight itself. Middle toposophic blights can be notoriously efficient at enforcing uniformity among infected hosts, thus forming a distributed emergent intelligence of remarkable consistency and adaptability. the Amalgamation is a good example of this. In this regard the Biovirate is no different.
The second factor was lower scale memetic manipulation. The Biovirate was able to play on and reinforce this general dissatisfaction by use of sophisticated memetic engineering and allying with or subverting other inhabited systems in the region.
Another factor was the institution of genuine reforms. Many of these systems, such as Farpoint, New Eden, New New Callisto, LandsFall, Roughball, Seuret, and Emmit, were under the sway of plutocratic clades and petty Houses. The Biovirate put great effort into improving the living conditions on each conquered world. After the local leadership was overthrown the wealth was always distributed equitably. This was a central element of CloneScion Jefrir Lapkei IX's effective "heart and soul" policy.
Then there was the Biovirate's own technological elitism. While the subject regions were strictly forbidden to use any Turingrade software, the Biovirate leadership which installed itself in each system employed advanced bionano biologically based transapientech which helped them maintain their control. The fact that the great vat-computers were immobile and expensive made the centralisation of power and technology in the hands of the elite all the easier.
Finally, the matter of simple luck cannot be denied. The Biovirate was expanding at a time that the big powers had been weakened by the Version War. Many outlying systems had suffered at the hands of relativistic fleets. The Version War was at the time largely seen as the "archailect's war", due to the fact that the major powers involved were either Sephirotic (Dominion, Negentropist) or vec (Metasoft). Having much of the destruction was caused by rogue autowars didn't help, while the fact that the most of the atrocities were committed by biont commanders going against their HQ (and setting up local fiefdoms) was conveniently ignored. There was even a common view that developed on several of the outlying systems (such as the "Biont Now" movement of Roberson) that the aioids had had their chance; now was the time to give the biont leadership a try.
Nevertheless schisms and revolts were a constant problem from the very beginning, and many once conquered worlds had to be abandoned. The leadership certainly bemoaned the failure of their own giant biocomputers to manufacture the exotic matter necessary for the construction of wormholes. Especially after the overthrow of the Lapkei succession (which had grown increasingly out of touch with the common people) and the rise of the Psychoidist Party of Lem Wernert and his clonesucessors, many extreme FTL and near-FTL ideas were tried, including Synchronicity Telepathy, Macroscopic Quantum Teleportation, and Psychokinetic Teleportation, but none of these proved to be at all viable.
The Biovirate developed fleets of organic ships with similarities to Zoeific, Genen and Ultimates vessels. Interestingly, while all these civilisations employed organic technology, all came to totally different solutions to the problems at hand. Bionanotech has consistently shown itself to more creative and novel than hylo-tech. Biovirate ships were long and graceful, often superficially piscoid in appearance, with the amat or conversion drive at the rear (reactionless drive was rarely used, as it required void bubble technology) and the weapon arrays at the front and sides. Despite the archaic arrangement, these vessels proved remarkably efficient in combat, although much of the credit here must go to the higher toposophic blight derived "black boxes" (misleadingly referred to as "Zoeboxes" - in fact they were not analogous to anything within the Zoeific Biopolity). Most powerful of all were the large one-biont cruisers that have misleadingly been termed autowars (the biovirate did not develop true autowars until much later). Rather than rigid diamondoid spheres, hemispheres, or discs, such as the autowars of hylotechnical empires like Metasoft or the Mutual Progress Alliance they were essentially a pisciform or vermiform adamant and polybuckminsterfullerene exoskeleton, capable of a large degree of plasticity, although still inferior to front-line Zoeific, Genen and Ultimate vessels in that regard. At the head of each bio-cruiser, shielded from the hard radiation of the efficient amat drive at the rear, was a huge DNA vatbrain, into which was permanently melded the biovirate pilot (the tale of the so-called pilot guild, warrior guild, and fighter guild is a story unto itself). Although not employing gravitational lensing, Biovirate shielding was still exceptional, due to the quality of their reactive armour, self-healing, and powerful nanite defences (organic blue goo and macrophages).
The Biovirate and Inner Sphere Anxiety Culture
It is a curious fact that the Biovirate advance caused serious anxieties among some clades of the Inner Sphere, who could see that all that stood between the advancing force and themselves was the enigmatic and isolationist Keter Dominion. In more secure historical circumstances the Biovirate advance would not be viewed with much fear in the Inner Sphere, as it was still a minor empire with relatively old tech in the remote periphery. But the late ComEmp era had already developed a culture of anxiety, with unpredictable new ascensions and transcensions, unusual ahuman activity, the old grand political scheme breaking up and worries of a new Version War developing. Civilisation critics were claiming that the failure of the Concord Ontology and ComEmp (plus exopaleological findings) showed the impossibility of maintaining a galactic culture, and that sooner or later the barbarians would be coming. These vague fears focused on the Biovirate blight as a convenient mythopoetic trigger. In this respect, the Biovirate was only the first of a succession of barbarian empires and middle toposophic blights to plague, and yes, to excite, the imagination of the Inner Sphere.
A rich tradition of apocalyptic literature developed regarding this, reaching its extreme fantasy in Symming Bao Cru's "The Biovirate Decalogue": a ten-part interactive virch, requiring three months of immersive experience time, in which the Keterist dominion, after initial victories, is defeated by a Biovirate superweapon called "Macronphage 9", the entire Inner Sphere is conquered, Merrion, Fons Luminis, and Seat of Judgment Prime are sacked, and the great Institutes of knowledge and culture razed. After long trials and tribulations, torture and oppression, close shaves and daring escapes, the hero (played by the vircher) is able to design a virulent form of khaki goo, the "Styx Expander", which quickly infects all the Biovirate vatcomputers and weapons systems, and the mysterious black boxes, disabling them. The oppressor is overthrown and civilisation emerges from the ruins.
The influence and popularity of this apocalyptic literature among all classes of sentients, biont as well as aioid, led to a sort of excited Anxiety Culture reflected in art, language, dress, communications protocol, and more besides. Those groups that stood to benefit the most were apocalyptic religious sects, both aioid and biont, which experienced a boom in membership throughout the civilised galaxy.
The reaction of various anthropist, luddite, and hate groups like H. sapiens Pride, the Church of Man (Reformed), the Society of Ludd, No Machines!, the Church of Human Rights, The Real Azimovists, and the Branch Hominist was exultant, although each responded differently, according to the degree of extremism. H. sapiens Pride for example wanted to individually torture every single vec, first turning up the pain centers to the maximum. The Azimovists on the other hand simply insisted that all vecs and aioids conform to the three asimovian laws. Once submitted to hu in that manner they were then to be treated kindly. Yet what all these groups had in common is that they each saw the Biovirate as liberators, and the more extreme ones did everything they could to hasten the Biovirate advance. This rarely went beyond minor and nuisance level local sabotage, crude attempts at memetic engineering, and the odd outbreaks of rather inefficient ai viruses. An interesting expression of this upwelling of anthropist and luddite enthusiasm were a number of "Free Human Resistence Battalions" that these groups raised and sent to the Biovirate to help in "the struggle". All these volunteers were to perish, to the last hu, in the war.
The Biovirate-Keter War
In 5802 AT the advance wave of the Biovirate forces first engaged outlying defenses of the Keter Dominion, a conflict that both sides had long anticipated. The heavily ai-comprised Keter Dominion had long been seen as the embodiment of all evil by the Biovirate leadership, and presented as such in their propaganda. While most of the Inner Sphere were fully convinced that the troublesome barbarians would be quickly dispatched by the super-evolved Keter entities, the Biovirate and its subject states had prepared themselves, having studied their opponents for centuries.
The Keter-Biovirate War began with a few indecisive skirmishes. By 5804 AT Biovirate battlecruisers had engaged the Keterist defenses at New Icarus, employing long-range relativist systems and potent nuke and amat weaponry. The fall of New Icarus, the fall of fifteen colonies in the Hakiman sector, and the destruction of the local stargates (after an unsuccessful attempt to breach the Keterist defences at the other end of the 'gate) was broadcast by laser pulse to all Biovirate forces, and back to Biovirate headquarters (ironically by the time the message arrived the war would be going very differently), and more quickly via stargate throughout the Inner Sphere, causing local outbreaks of mass hysteria, soaring sales in apocalyptic interactives, and increasing outbreaks of vandalism, sabotage, and vec-killing by extreme hate groups.
The Biovirate success was short lived. The colonies in the Hakiman sector were of a lower technological level then the core Keterist worlds. With their fall, and the destruction of the wormhole links, Keterist countersystems such as the nanotech "antiwars" and stealth fighters and cruisers were quickly deployed. It took longer for the defenders to marshal the formidable Battlestars, Pocketstars, and Ministars that were stationed in frontier systems, but were too large to move through even the biggest stargates (an average Ministar was some 15 to 20 km in diameter, a Pocketstar 30 to 40 km, and a Battlestar anywhere from 50 to 100 km). Within a decade it had become clear that the Biovirate had seriously under-estimated their foe, and they found themselves consistently outgunned, outflanked, and outgooed. Even their famed and feared "zoeboxes" were no help. At each battle the biovirate fleet would pulse a laser message to the nearest home base, recording Keterist tactics in the hope that these, now known, could be countered, and Keterist weaknesses turned against them. But the Keterists had anticipated this and varied their tactics with each attack. Now they would use giant (up to a micron) armoured and intelligent antiwars, now they would use tiny swarming nanites. Now they would employ their mighty battlestars in a careful dragnet from which nothing can escape, now they would circle in from behind in a risky charge of small cloaked fighter-drones. They followed no detectable pattern or sequence in this, so they could not be anticipated, even by the Biovirate's giant DNA-vat computers.
In this way, over the next 200 years Keterist forces inexorably moved inwards through the Biovirate, destroying their warships with a minimal effort. All the biovirate could do was increase the mutation rate of their ships' defensive measures, and vary their tactics, in the hope of some combination of genetic structure and strategy being successful. There was growing despair and panic with each successive defeat. In 5920 AT the ruling Saklener Clonesuccession was overthrown and Morral Kuprin Jerr, called Auto-Jerr by his opponents for his impassioned plea that full neuman bio-autowars be tried, took over. The Biovirate began the previously unthinkable manufacture of autowars, albeit autowars of organic (partially bionano but more specifically synanotech and syborg/sybont) design, nicknamed "biowars". At first these proved no more successful than the piloted cruisers. Then, in 5986, at the defense of Bruce-Lilburn orbital band in the Triumphant Fate system, twenty-three light years from Pereira, the incredible happened. A biowar of the "Megaraptor C" series acquired what seemed to be powerful new nanite immunity, due to what is now known to have been a high blight-based mid-range toposophic re-organisation of the component elements. A short tightbeam transmission of its geneprint and outcome of the battle was sent home before it was dispatched by a Keterist ministar.
Morral Kuprin Jerr milked the outcome for all it was worth, and his popularity ratings soared (this despite the fact that nanite immunity seemed to be a mutation that had nothing to do with the piloting sentience being ai, if the ship had a hu pilot it would have performed just as well). But Biovirate joy was short-lived. Insystem production of the new bio-wars had barely begun when waves of relativistic stealth-drones, cruisers, and pocket battlestars, which had clearly been moving ahead of the main Keterist force, attacked. The defenders fought back with the desperation of those who knew they had nothing to lose, but were soon overwhelmed, and in 6009 the last defenses of Pereira were vanquished. As an "educational punishment" the Keterists installed governing AI systems and nanarchic limitations on all Biovirate systems, making them part of Keter whether they wanted or not. Their only way of regaining their freedom would be to find ways of outwitting the superintelligences by becoming more advanced themselves.
Image from Michael Tan (copyright)
A feral Biowar in the Seuret Volume.
The Biowar Volume
However, the defeat of the Biovirate was merely the end of the source of the region's problem. Genotype instructions for the new "Megaraptor C" series, along with additional mutational instructions, had been beamed to all remaining Biovirate industrial systems. Later archeological research has shown that these systems had by now been more blatantly infected by the ahuman blight, and many had completely lost any sign of original bioism, being completely borgified. Now themselves self-evolving and building tremendous numbers of self-replicating biowars, they were still spreading. What is worse, some off-system autowars had by now acquired complete immunity to much of the Keterist nanotech, and this they passed on to their comrades. While programmed to especially attack any sign of artificial intelligence, they were themselves equipped with fairly high level intelligence (which often led to complex coevolutionary races as autowars fought autowars, an effect that was partially anticipated to help them develop into more efficient fighters). Although the Keterist heavy weapons systems and mini-, pocket-, and battlestars remained highly effective, they were no longer able to make good use of their standard antiwars or stealth drones, nor could they spare the resources to come to the aid of nearby systems. In 6243 AT the Wadena Republic (Cyg b423 253) was destroyed, and in the following years many less defended minor cultures in the region found themselves under vicious attack from relativist autowars. In 6251 AT Pereira itself was attacked by a squadron of highly evolved biowars. They quickly dispatched the defending Keterist fighters and cruiser, and, after suffering some casualties, managed to somehow subvert and disable the ministar, the Malebranche (the Cygnus Advance Division of the Keterist fleet had for some obscure reason a fondness of early hu rationalist philosophers as mascots), that was protecting the system. Rather than liberating the Pereiran citizenship, the biowars interpreted the Keterist nanarchic control systems as a hostile aioid intelligence, and proceeded to sterilise the planet by orbital bombardment, offensive goo, and, as a final touch, sending the crippled 20 km Malebranche hurtling to the surface, where the impact triggered a vast nuclear winter.
The Cygexpa frontier came under attack in 6400 AT, and at least ten minor systems were wiped out (including Sen Balta, home of the famous Moodus Agriplex). Newly developed antiwars released by Keter and Cygexpa spread in the region, but the so-called bio-wars (by now heavily blightified and almost totally lacking in any of the original biological components) had by now proved adept at evolving countermeasures. The Keterist and Cygexpa forces had no choice to abandon their remaining colonies in the region, and pull back to coordinates behind the behind the Kolo 4 - Jemaya - Ursa High surface, where they had installed defensive S2 toposophic mines. The biowar incursion never came. Curiously, the biowars seemed to confine themselves to an area of approximately 400 LY radius centered on Seuret.
In 6432 the Mekelon Institute of Astrography and Interstellar Astrogation officially declared the whole Biowar Volume a Level 8 Hazard, unsafe for colonisation and for navigation by any but heavily armed convoys. In 7640 this was downgraded to Level 3 Hazard (some risk of disaster, colonisation not recommended), and in 7820 to Level 2. Nowadays there are still not infrequently sightings of unusually evolved biowars (seldom actively destructive) that prowl uninhabited systems or scout remote settlements.
Finally, brief mention can be made here of Far Acton, originally a Cygexpa outpost, attacked and destroyed by bio-wars in 6427 AT. The system, some 240 LY from the nearest stargate (Haapgood 5, in the Cygexpa volume), was recolonised in 7455 by the Zenon Charter, a clade of extreme sports enthusiasts. In 7697 AT they offered a unique experience - observing and feeding wild biowars. For a reasonable fee, the visitor is transported to Far Acton, where they are allowed to manipulate the waldos in the Charter's amat farms, offering a neatly modularised supply of amat to any of the apparently local autowars. Although it may sometimes take months before a biowar makes an appearance (necessitating a long stay and more finances in the Charter's coffers), every sentient who has had the unique experience of offering 50 kilograms of magnetically confined amat to a real live biowar reports it is an experience they will never forget.
The Pereira system today is lightly colonised by a number of disparate clades. It is at present nominally administered by a coalition of Keterist, MPA, Zoeific, and non-aligned transapients. More details here.
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Biowar - Text by M. Alan Kazlev An organic warship, a sentient, self-contained, evolutionary, self-replicating superbright bio-autowar. Like autowars, biowars can form long-lived populations and make regions of space hazardous long after the original conflict is over.
Human Liberation - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Generic term that encompasses a number of generally messianic sapient human factions, philosophies and religions that seek to overthrow ai and reinstate hu as lord of creation. They range from harmless cranks to minor terrorist extremists and hate groups. Owing to their lack of toposophic development they cannot do much harm, and are easily subverted. It is generally acknowledged that the only reason they are allowed by regional hyperturing administrators to exist is to contribute to the memetic rule of the Sephirotics.
Human Potential Movement - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Information Age to Interplanetary Age umbrella movement for a number of genuine and bogus therapeutic techniques. These involved both individual and group practices and used psychoanalytical, mental, meditation, and/or physical techniques to help individuals develop emotionally and advance spiritually. By the close of the Interplanetary Age the original intention was long lost and in many cases the older movements had been replaced by a various factionalisted cults, some harmless and some otherwise. (See also the classical New Age movement.)
Pereira - Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev Cygnus Sector, Outer Volumes, system, former capital of the Biovirate, conquered by the Keter Dominion following the Keterist-Biovirate war, attacked and sterilised by rogue bio-Autowars, currently lightly populated by a number of disparate clades.