The hyperintelligent ecology of the newly discovered planet Kammerer posed a potential threat to the precarious stability of the Carina Outer Volumes.
Within the continent-wide treelike structures was a highly advanced vegetable consciousness, constantly designing new forms of mobile animal-like life, which often had complicated warlike and competitive social behaviours built in. A prime instance of this was the Joker Leafant genotype, which was present in the ever- changing biota when the planet was first studied by AlephBenedita Bluesky in 7981. The gladiatorial fighting, both linguistic and physical, of these creatures, and the intricate genetic programming of the baroque rainforest took up the attention of the self absorbed alien intelligence, which appeared to Ally to be roughly equivalent to human built artificial intelligences just after the First Singularity.
She thought the other Bluesky copies should be consulted, so sent virtual emulations to them via her ten-metre link to the Wormhole nexus, and also to other experts connected to the Bluesky Processing Company. The first to arrive was Hyoummnin, her local second in command and representative to the provolve clades in the Fluff nebula development. Hyoummnin was an provolved and augmented chalicothere, (Moropus sapiens), with five-fingered hands instead of claws on the front limbs. With her was a multibodied Solarian cyborg, Daneel, with twenty identical robot extra bodies and a single consciousness.
GimelBenedita arrived next, from the Vela expansion direction, accompanied by her assistant Buteo, a humanshaped dolphin provolve, (Inia homorphii), physically massive with webbed hands and feet and a porpoise beak.
The SI:>1 outer volumes Marshall-substitute 2Lwis from Bolobo system also came along (invited by Mel) to provide legal advice.
From the Zoeific Biopolity came AlephMichio Ee, now very ill and accompanied by a TRHN biotechnician. Ee had suffered a malicious viral attack on his polyploidal very-long-term DNA memory, and now had an unreliable hylotech backup, but mostly could only remember events from his childhood or the last hundred years.
Finally came BethBenedita, from the transcendent Keter Dominion, now an advanced second singularity entity manifest in a golden nine- metre sphere, just able to traverse the small wormhole link. To interact with her "sisters", she created a physical avatar similar to her original appearance.
Before making any plans, these various posthumans had a traditional Far Edge Party in a clearing provided by the as yet unnamed Vegetable Mind, and were entertained by translated Joker insults, and by jousting by other more exotic genotypes. Ally then retired for mnemonic treatment by the TRHN technician to augment her own long term identity, but awoke in the coffinlike machine next morning with no memory of any kind.
Following investigation by 2Lwis and the biotechnician it was found that a virtual entity had entered via a microwave link and caused all cortical and polyploidal memories to be erased. The biotechnician promptly committed suicide from professional guilt. 2Lwis determined that the virch assassin was a copy of AlephBenedita herself, and began to piece together a sequence of events. This was interrupted by a conflict between the intensely masculine solarian extras and the manufactured Kammerer genotypes. The Jokers had been insulting the extras for being poor bodyguards and for suspected cross-species sexual behaviour with the provolves, and the artificial hormones in the robot bodies had overloaded, causing a fight. Ten extras and the human prime were killed before one extra reached a nano weapons provider, after which all the Leafants and other mobile genotypes were wiped out in a 20km radius.
Beth and 2Lwis arranged for the survivors to retreat to orbit, while the Marshall substitute tried to find out who had caused Ally's degeneration. The virch appeared to be one of the emulations sent as messages across the Galaxy as invitations to the Far Edge Party, probably the one sent to Keter space which had had to cross into Mutual Progress Alliance territory on its way. Somewhere there it had been duplicated and modified into a virtual "Nikita" assassin to kill its own original.
Many extremophile worlds in MPA space could remember the retaliations after the destruction of Sadalmelek orbital, while the Premacy Coalition in the NoCoZo outervolumes also had an axe to grind against the paraterraforming companies. 2Lwis would have to make inquiries in the wider galaxy, and the truth would perhaps never be known, although conspiracy theories have multiplied in the 400 years since these events. The disappearance of a small number of high ranking cyberterrorist extremophiles from the ice adapted clade moon colonies along the NoCoZo/MPA border have been strongly linked to these events.
Mel and Beth realised that the warlike vegetable mind thoroughly enjoyed eir little skirmish with the Terragens, and should be quarantined from further contact with the galaxy at large until e either went back into self absorption, or a suitable strategy for integration could be agreed on. Mel determined to become a Caretaker God, using Keterist templates supplied from Beth in her capacity as a S>2 sophont herself. Over the next two standard years the pair fortified the asteroid belt and stripped carbon from the companion planets to provide an exclusion zone backed up by a now ascended GimelBenedita, who took the new name Lady Mondegrin of obscure origin.
BethBenedita took the sub-baseline husk of Ally back to Keter for therapy, while the Company uplifts and extras helped Michio Ee close the wormhole for the foreseeable future.
by Steve Bowers (2008)