Cygexpa

Cygexpa Logo
Image from Darren Ryding

Symbol:A swan silhouetted against the bright star Deneb
Capital:Pardes
Ruling AI:Lohengrin
Origin:Originally CEA, Cygnus Expansion Association
Period:Middle First Federation to Early Central Alliance

CEA was founded in 1445 as a consortium of space development megacorps interested in interstellar colonisation. They realised that despite the rampant cladism of the age they could make a hefty profit from discovering colonisable worlds, terraforming and transport of whoever wanted to live there. CEA was one of the first adopters of wormhole technology, and expanded its reach outwards at a frantic pace. It seems they had come to an agreement with the AI God who came to be known as the Expansive One. At the time the Expansive One was still a fairly minor archai that had ascended from a core built around the hyperturing Varun (Vega Geodesics), and was busy extending eir reach and influence with reliable standardized wormhole technology. It is was inevitable then that CEA would come to a useful agreement with the VG spacetime engineers. During the early Age of Expansion the CEA-VG partnership became so profitable and powerful that it absorbed the original founding megacorps.

In 2376 the headquarters were moved from Callisto to Pardes, a pleasant earthlike world 149 lightyears from Earth. Pardes became a major communications and trade hub thanks to its wormhole clusters and the CEA expansion fleets. During this time CEA began more and more turn into a culture of its own, a technocracy ruled benignly by the CEA AI Lohengrin for the profit of the Shareholders. It is still not clear whether Lohengrin is a sub personality of the Expansive One or a distinct entity in Eir own right. Many archailectologists have argued that it is pointless to try to resolve questions like this anyway, at least to the satisfaction of any sentient of S3 or less. In any case over the next thousand years CEA became Cygexpa, dominating a sizeable sector of space.

Cygexpa (also pronounced Cygexba) became a corporate culture, held together by ties of religion, tradition and economics. Unlike many of the great Houses it did not see any need to dominate or micromanage the diverse worlds within its dominion, they could take care of themselves. What Cygexpa did was to control the interstellar wormhole networks, trade and communications between the worlds, which was a far more powerful mean of dominance. On the Cygexpa worlds the citizens, known as Employees, lived in relative prosperity. Employeehood is not automatic or mandatory, when a person reached maturity they swear an oath of allegiance to Cygexpa and become an Employee. There was the (formal) possibility for a young person to emigrate instead, and in some cases Cygexpa refused to employ - an event which is regarded as equivalent to being declared unfit to live, most victims simply kill themselves. Most Employees found life outside the House unthinkable - they are the Chosen Ones.

The basic tenets of the corporate religion were that the employees work for shareholder value, which is the highest good. Lohengrin (formally titled Divine CEO) will reward the faithful and industrious, while the sinners who break the sacred corporate policy will be demoted, punished or even excommunicated - fired. While material gain and power was not to be dismissed, true value comes from the inner satisfaction of creating wealth for others. Other rewards to the faithful is uploading to the Ancestor Banks or becoming a Shareholder.

The Shareholders own Cygexpa, although they took no actual part in running it (that is done by Lohengrin and its executive seraphim). Most were immensely wealthy beings, with their own corners of Cygexpa they ruled as feudal lords. The highest aspiration of an Employee was to become a Shareholder, although beyond owning shares in corporate banks most are infinitely far away from it.

For the entire inner sphere era, Cygexpa remained somewhat infamous for being a very conservative and traditionalist House that had not truly adapted its goals to the changing conditions of the time. It was able however to continues to strive for profitable expansion, probably through being protected against the ripples of transcendence events by Lohengrin or the Expansive One and their seraiphim. For much of this time Lohengrin steadfastly refused to change eir own goals, even though appeared very limiting. E remained loosely allied with both the Negentropy Alliance and the NoCoZo, although its primary motivation appeared to be to sustain Cygexpa no matter what.

By the early outer volumes period the rate of transcensions was starting to increase, as more of space was settled and more exploration and colonization AIs matured into godlets in their own right. This meant greater instability and an increasing number of blights and perversities. The response of the Inner Sphere superpowers was a re-evaluation of how things had been done; the so-called Age of re-Evaluation.

The changing circumstances began giving the hyperturings in charge of Cygexpa a number of headaches. New internal problems resulting from the ripple effect of new ascends and transcends was an increasing number of rebellious worlds that began setting up their own trade and communications, often supported by raiders and independent traders. This had always been a problem to some extent, but usually the amount of defections was hardly noticeable in the big picture. Although Cygexpa had never been averse to use force to make an example, if this is done too often and in too obvious a way memetic spin doctoring becomes increasingly difficult. A further problem was many Employees find the whole idea of rebelling so baffling that they often tried to preach and reason with the rebels too much, giving them a chance to plan and act.

Another worrying trend was the emerging schisms between some of the Shareholders, most notably Adriana Yue Oncehuman (a highly developed 7000-year virtual) and the Adapawe Clan of superiors, which increasingly threatened to squander House resources on private proxy wars.

The early Age of Crisis period saw a further crucial undermining of the Cygexba empire. The so-called Tonebtor Transcend flooded the market with agrav cloth of multi-decade stability and saw some fortunes made and others broken. A number of Zoeific Biopolity struck it rich at the same time that at least a dozen Cygexba wormhole-control AIs decided to defect to the Biopolity. The Biopolity corps were suddenly in a position to invest in and buy off memetically entire strategic star systems and polities

Although accusations were traded all-round, and fingers were pointed at everyone from the United Suns to Amalgamation sympathisers, and of course the Biopolity itself, the true reason for the defections has never been made clear, although all those accused (even Amalgamation sympathisers!) have been cleared. But the damage done to Cygexba - both strategically and as a loss of face - were great. it didn't matter that no Cygexban Stargate hyperturing had defected in over a thousand years. the fact that a number of them did now was sufficient to cause a huge loss of confidence among investors.

So after the defection, Cygexba became a middle and outer region empire rather than an inner sphere empire. Pardes remained in Cygexba hands and Lohengrin probably had backups running on at least half a dozen star systems, but Cygexba lost the regions nearest to the Inner sphere. The Biopolity started doing special trade deals with the Dominion, MPA, the Terran Federation, and even the Technorapture Hypernation. Ironically, the Zoeific Biopolity was itself to be undermined by Dominion agents who gained ownership of several strategic systems, before in turn being supplanted by an alliance of Solarists and MPA developers

Meanwhile, Lohengrin continued trading with everyone (contemporary satirists portrayed em as one of those hopelessly rational and forgiving beings that never tried to get even if it cannot be certain it will bring shareholder profit). This of course caused some uproar, and some parts broke free, possibly led by a few shareholder fractions. Some of these - e.g. the Hosoko Hegemony - became mini-empires in their own right.

Over the following centuries the Cygexba empire continued, but now surrounded by various former divisions, Dominion, Keter, Negentropists, the Biopolity and MPA; it continued its headstrong expansion outwards but gradually lost more and more influence over the mainstream of interstellar politics. But being out of politics, it also gradually became more and more of a mere megacorp rather than an empire.

In 7247, with no warning (at least none apparent to S2 hyperturings who ran the corporation), Lohengrin disbanded the Cygexba empire. The AI, ever looking for the bottom line, realised that maintaining an empire was not cost-efficient in the current era. After a dramatic meeting with the shareholders (still widely rated as one of the top five on the list of historical meetings to simvirch), Cygexba, astonishingly, officially sold off its political power. In exchange for vast sums of capital, technology, trade treaties and more obscure things Lohengrin traded away the rights of governance on the purely Cygexba planets as well as many strategic wormholes. The aftershocks of the whole affair, the "Cygexba Sale", rock interstellar economy and politics to this day.

Cygexba still remains, but now as a mere hypercorp with some extremely profitable deals. It has continued the expansion outwards into the Cygnus clouds, perhaps trying to rebuild itself as an Outer Volume empire or because Lohengrin have no other ideas. Shareholders remain in the inner sphere or their own mid-region private mini-empires, keeping watch on how Lohengrin tries to keep them rich but ever more distant from the actual corporation. Only a few have moved with Lohengrin outwards, perhaps hoping to be the founders of something new in the wild west of Cygnus.

Meanwhile, many of the ex-Cygexban corporations and polities in the volume have evolved and claded in their own direction, free from the regulating influence of Lohengrin. Many retain fairly cordial links with the parent archailect and with the new, loosely organised Cygexban Commonwealth; favoured trade relations, low tariff deals, and so on. Others however want nothing to do with Lohengrin Cygexba, and some have been undermined by the Dominion and the MPA.

In the current era the central worlds of the new Cygexban Commonwealth is a loose polity benignly overseen by various avatars and subnodes of the Expansive One, who retains Eir influence in the region, even after Lohengrin's outward migration. Seeking opportunities and hoping to make it big, investors and dreamers flood the region, and those ex-shareholders who stayed with Lohengrin have found themselves, ironically, wealthier than they ever were during the old days.

But beyond the Commonwealth AIs' immediate sphere of influence, things are a lot more chaotic. Ripple-effects from transcends seem to be increasing, the latest being a new wave of quantum perfumes - a bizarre drug/art smuggled in from unknown sources linking the wearer with apparently parallel realities through some kind of photo-nanotech. It threatens to undermine society by its implied nihilism - regardless of what you do, in other worlds you do all other possible actions, so making choices doesn't matter.

A number of colonies were cut off from the Wormhole Nexus following the breakup of House Cygexpa, including some, like Guanche, which reverted to barbarism.

The sector remains a region of instability, yet at the same time, because of the very active process of wormhole construction, is also seen as an economic boom and a gateway to the outer volumes. Further space rushes and instability add further to the aura of romanticism has developed around the region. One new empire which arisen in the former Cygexpa volume is the Archosaurian Empire which is expanding into the vacuum left by the disappearance of the old House.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev
Additions by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 23 June 2000.