Children of Caph, The

Beta Cassiopeiae, a Cinder System

Cinder Systems
Image from Steve Bowers
The Children of Caph developed an artificially rapid population growth, and were preparing to expand into the neighboring systems, but were wiped out by an environmental disaster which may have been sabotage.

Aggressive Pink Goo

One of the methods used in the First Federation period to allow colonisation of distant systems was the Seed Ship, one variant of which included human zygotes, embryos or gametes, and a combination of artificial wombs and robotic parents (known as parental vecs) which could be used to raise children in the new system. Several systems in the Cassiopeia direction, such as Diwali, were colonised in this fashion.

Beta Cassiopeiae, known as Caph, 47 light years from Sol, was colonised using seed ships and parental vecs, and a successful vec-human hybrid civilisation developed there, nominally aligned with the Solar Dominion. However the system became cut off during the Version War, suspected by both the Dominion and by Metasoft of treachery; the civilisation did not re-establish contact with the Sephirotic civilisation after the War, but developed in a new and somewhat disturbing direction.

The Parental Vecs adapted themselves for large scale child rearing, and constructed vast incubation factories turning out millions of children per day. At the same time the worlds of Nineveh and Tyre were converted into vast city-worlds, covered in food-production machinery and surrounded by agricultural satellites.

At the start of the 55th century the Caph system held a population of 50 trillion sophonts, and observers in nearby systems suspected that the Children were preparing to launch vast numbers of colonizing starships in several directions. But in 5409 the star Beta Cassiopeiae flared catastrophically. Caph was well-known as a variable Delta Scuti-type star prone to outburst, but a system of magnetic management systems had been in place for several thousand years without incident. The failure of these systems may have been a deliberate act of sabotage - but the responsible party or faction is not known for certain.

The overpopulated system was already under severe environmental stress, and this stellar event caused a dramatic population decline. The collapse of civilisation in the Beta Cassiopeiae system followed, and short but fierce wars quickly destroyed the remaining population. Today Beta Cassiopeiae is a cinder system, with the main planets reverting to their previous, uninhabitable state.

Some historians suspect the involvement of Solar Dominion Seraphim, which had been sighted in the vicinity in that period; but others suggest that Solipsist Panvirtuality agents or Diamond Networkers were involved. This system is often quoted as a warning against over-rapid, exponentiating population growth; if the rapidly reproducing Children of Caph had in fact started to colonise the nearby systems, they would soon have exhausted those systems too, leaving an expanding shell of depleted systems behind them in a process sometimes known as 'burning the cosmic commons'.

Whenever such a rapidly reproducing, exponentiating swarm of colonisers has emerged in the Terragen sphere, it has been suppressed or has failed in one way or another. Many commentators believe that this is a deliberate strategy by the Sephirotic Gods and other metaempires, anxious to avoid the destruction of the resources of the Galaxy.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers and John B

Initially published on 31 December 2007.