Conver Ambi

Conver Ambi symbol
Image from Anders Sandberg
Conver Ambi Great Symbol

The Conver Ambi was an early expansionist relativist empire that was a cause of the Second Empires War.

The Conver Ambi began as a result of dissatisfaction among a number of megacorps excluded from the Mutual Co-Development Treaty of 1450. In 1580 they signed their own treaty, the Transtellar Cooperative Pact (TCP), with the following member parties: Callisto Interstellar Development, Asgard Memetics, Federation Ailectronics, Nanosoft Interplanetary, Sol-Centauri Liners (later Transtellar Tours), Cislunar Transport and Trading Company, Far Frontier Real Estate, Main Belt Carbonaceous Holdings, and Jovian Eco-tech. Unlike the MCDT, these corporations did not divide space up between them. In fact only a few of these corporations were specifically concerned with interstellar development per se. Rather, the TCP laid out a region where all the corporations were able to develop according to their own specialty. Since the different corps did not actually compete, they formed a single complementary package, and it was inevitable that they would grow closer as time progressed, adopting a common ideology, protocol, database, etc. At the same time a somewhat uncomfortable situation ensued with the TCP increasingly infringing on MCDT territory. In most cases agreements were worked out, but hostilities resulted in the corpwars of Exmore and Delta Pavonis, along with many minor skirmishes.

Like the MCDT, TCP ideology was fairly minimal, being based - as were most megacorps of this period - on Company Patriotism and Zaibatsuism, Abundance Ideologies, Management Marketing self-help sects, and other corporate religions and para-religions that flourished in the rampant lassiez fare universe of the middle and late Federation period. But during the 1800s there developed on the important corporate outpost of 37 Geminorum I an ideology of corporate theism and omegist supremacy, based around the memetic revolution of the cyborg Superior, Voss Culver-of-Bydovsky. The TCP planetary administrator and business visionary had the idea (following a DNI- and nanopsychopharmocology-mediated vision quest) of a missionary corporate religion based on mercantile astropolitical expansion in the wake of aggressive memetic subversion. The TCP executive division at New Cydonia City, Mars, Sol System, had always seen Culver-of-Bydovsky as an eccentric, but retained him for his brilliant and successful management skills. By the time their simulations informed them that the situation was rather serious and Culver-of-Bydovsky was dangerous it was too late. It was over 60 years by relativistic conversion-ship to 37 Geminorum, and the TCP rep and hit team arrived to find the local district already transformed into a small but vibrant theocratic empire that called itself the Conver Ambi, busily engaged in active memetic subversion of nearby settlements. Taking out the heavily guarded Culver-of-Bydovsky was now impossible.

As the investigative team returned to the Sol system, the board at New Cydonia City was divided. Several members wanted to disown the "rebels", but the TCP strategy, decision support, and planning AIs were intrigued. They convinced the board that Culver-of-Bydovsky had instead had a stroke of management genius: unite the companies and disparate worlds with a spiritual framework. Turn Bydovsky and his copies into the priesthood, make sure they understand a proper division of power (already inherent in the corporate theism, omegism, and mercantile elements, which implied the need of a strong corporation) and expand materially and spiritually into the Mutual Co-Development Treaty! Of course, Culver-of-Bydovsky and his allies had predicted this result already and had the full support of many of the local management systems. The new policy directives from Sol already fitted with the growing movement, giving it increased authority.

The transformation from TCP into Conver Ambi took approximately 200 years, but was extremely thorough. The new synergy was further strengthened when Birnam Ecotech joined in 1984. The corporation gave the Conver Ambi the edge in terraforming and ecosystem design, and also introduced its own brand of bioism into the religion. At the synod of 2001 a creed was accepted that encompassed militant corporate ecologism: the view that all successful corporations, ideologies and cultures are deep down ecological systems, understandable using memetic ecology and only viable if they embody and follow all the truths of generalized ecology in their structure. Being such a true ecology, Conver Ambi had a duty to enlighten the other empires on all levels, and as long as it kept its internal ecology pure it was bound to evolve towards a corporate Omega Point in the far future.

With the terraformed world of Conver Ky (formerly 37 Geminorum I) as its capital, the Conver Ambi was already by the year 2000 AT a highly expansive theocratic empire based on a number of close-knit industrial, economic, and military colonies and settlements throughout the Gemini region. The following centuries saw it expand remorselessly until it became the largest empire the human race had ever seen. However, the logistics of the pre-wormhole era were such that it never managed to occupy the Sol System and other core worlds, and even many of the more minor systems were able to fend it off. But for the smallest outposts the Conver Ambi was bad news, and even in those instances such as the Penglai Outpost settlement of Guo-Shou Jing (Giclas 258-33 Main Belt Habitat), by the time the Imperial Penglai Jade Dragon Fleet arrived the Converists had already established defensive batteries and nanoassembled squadrons and the Penglaists were forced to retreat with heavy losses.

The success of the Conver Ambi lay in its peculiar combination of memetic engineering and regional autonomy. Regional worlds were allowed to maintain their own culture, economy, and lifestyle, as long as they acknowledged the supremacy of the Empire, did not sabotage their corporate activities (which often involved plundering the resources of the local system for the Good of the Empire), and paid lip service to the ideology of theocratic omegism (according to which the Conver Ambi itself, as represented in the teachings of the Sainted Avatar Voss Culver-of-Bydovsky (Blessed be His name) and His clonechildren and Copies, and the Copies and clonechildren of all His immediate Followers, Disciples, Students, and Devotees, represents an Important Stage and Prerequesite in the Omegisation of the Universe as a Whole (the Converists tended to use capitals a lot, emphasizing the sacredness of the moment of consciousness, as well as of their cause and of the divine acts in general)). Numerous holidays and feastdays were established, undeveloped systems were built up (complete with numerous monuments to the Empire), and those who collaborated with the Empire were richly rewarded.

The spreading influence of the AI-gods was not good news for the Conver Ambi. As with the Mutual Co-Development Treaty AIs, the Empire superbrights were simply outclassed and outmemed by the newly emerging archailects. Nevertheless, the spread of the AI-gods was slow, as they preferred to consolidate their hold in small regional clusters. Of greater seriousness to the Imperium was an increasing lack of vitality and novelty within the Conver Ambi itself. The once vibrant empire was going stale, and failing to adapt to new developments from without as well as from within its own territories.

As the entire culture was based on expansion and progress, this caused many to seek someone (or something) to blame, as well as the emergence of fundamentalist religion. In some quarters bioism turned into anthropism and turned against Metasoft, proclaiming that it was a failed anti-ecology (a "weed") and in need of "pruning". Others persecuted Solarists, leading to the institution of pilgrimage jewelery to protect Solarist pilgrims in the Inner Sphere.

The most fateful development was the Geminga Orthodoxy, originally simply known as the Jafyral. The Jafyral were strict believers in the doctrines of Culver-of-Bydovsky, and proclaimed that all the problems Conver Ambi experienced were due to lack of observance, that a return to the strictest interpretations of the rules would restore the work ethic, wavering morale of outlying planets, and economic viability of the empire and curb the spread of hyperturing machinations. Although they were at first a minority, they influenced many political movements that simply could not see any other viable alternatives. Intellectuals either kept silent, joined the choir, or were silenced by accusations of being memetically influenced by the other empires.

Purges were instituted to root out subversives, sometimes finding real infiltrators or malcontents, sometimes just getting rid of troublesome or critical persons. Of course this hardening did not help Conver Ambi, fueling the Jafyral accusations that the moderates were not doing anything and letting things slide while the forces of evil were gathering for attack. Paranoia, attempts at enforcing cultural and ideological unity, and widening political rifts were growing. The counter-movements against the Jafyral were at first diffuse and splintered, but after the assassination of the political virchist Johekk-Dungl 4 in 3702 by the Orthodoxy they began to unite and wage a political war against the Jafyral, increasing the instability.

In 3713 the internal tensions grew too strong, and the moderate regions of the Conver Limis refused to accept the new political ecology laws. It ignited the Conver War (or Second Consolidation War), one of the worst wars in the history of the terragens. The Jafyral, now calling themselves the Geminga Orthodoxy after their stronghold around Sacred Geminga 4 seized power on Conver Ky, and began a ruthless war of cleansing against the rebels there and elsewhere. They employed every means available, from nanoinfiltration to personality manufacture and memetic reprogramming to crude torture or nuclear genocide to cleanse the Conver Ambi. Rebellions erupted on nearly every world, often cutting across social lines in a way that turned neighbors against neighbors.

The Conver Limnis and many rebels in the core volumes received much help from the Solar Dominion and Metasoft, enabling them to fight back. As the Geminga Orthodoxy was driven back it resorted to ever more destructive methods, laying waste to entire biospheres and killing all inhabitants in order to save them from the awful fate of being "infected by the enemy cancer". In addition the Geminga Orthodoxy demonstrated a surprising skill in interstellar warfare, deploying tactical tricks that afterward would remain unused until the Version War several hundred years later.

As the Geminga side were pushed back at atrocious cost, it became ever more clear that the Solar Dominion and Metasoft were dividing the Conver Ambi between themselves. Many local populations began to struggle against their saviors or even joined the Geminga in order to retain their independence. In the final bloody phase it was a five-way war between the Conver Limis, Geminga Orthodoxy, Metasoft, Solar Dominion, and local populations.

For much of the war, stargates were rarely destroyed. They were too expensive and sacred to the Conver Ambi, and this helped make the Second Consolidation War extremely short compared to the First or the Version War. Towards the end however, when defeat seemed certain, some of the Geminga Orthodoxy began adopting a Scorched Earth policy, imploding stargates just when the Dominion or Metasoft forces were coming through, a devastating tactic (both to the invading fleet and to the luckless inhabitants of the local system) and one that was to be revived with terrible effect by NoCoZo mercenary forces, and isolated commanders of both sides, during the Version War some seven centuries later. Relativist fleets were also used, but most were stopped or completed their missions within a century. However the lessons from long-range ultrascale warfare would be the foundation of the Version War tactics.

The War ended with the Ian Treaty 3932 AT, where the Conver Limis, Geminga Orthodoxy, Metasoft and Solar Dominion settled on a ceasefire. The two major empires were too busy assimilating the former Conver Ambi systems to care about the remaining parts. The Geminga Orthodoxy had adopted a fanatic defense posture that would in the long run bankrupt them, undermine their faith, and make them easy pickings for the Dominion; but in the short run made even the major empires wary of attacking them. Conver Limnis instead turned outwards, briefly flowering as the Ambi Limnis into one of the most significant local renaissances of known history, and becoming the precursor to the Second Federation.

The Geminga Orthodoxy eventually dissolved, remaining in name only, but has now become assimilated as a prefecture. The Conver Limnis remained independent and actually did well before and during the Second Federation, but was then absorbed by the Dominion during the early Second Federation period before breaking free again in the wake of the Version War.

In the later ComEmp period the Restored Ambi Limnis - some worlds in the Perseus Rift that once were a part of the original Ambi Limnis - benefited from the weakening of the Dominion in the wake of the Version War, and attempted to reclaim their former glory. Politically they are too far away and too economically weak for the post-ComEmp Dominion to be interested, and instead act as a kind of buffer state between the Dominion and Metasoft.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 24 September 2001.