House Tir Sorcha
Symbol:A golden pyramid with an eye in it.
Founded:246 A.T.
Capital:Tir Sorcha Habitat, SolSys
Population:Total population is 94 billion, with 72 billion living in the Inner Sphere and the remaining 22 billion in the Middle Regions.
Population breakdown:Cyborgs: 80%
Nanocyborgs: 12%
Virtuals: 6%
Posthumans: 2%


History:

Tir Sorcha Habitat

In 211 a.t. Deep Space Development Corporation used nuclear charges to nudge an asteroid into a very eccentric orbit that would take it back and forth from near the Earth and out to Mars. They hollowed the asteroid out, converted it into a habitat and named it Odyssey Transfer Station. The idea was to provide colonists with a cheap ticket to Mars.

Unfortunately, when full scale Mars colonization began, the Odyssey proved unable to compete with the Fast Shuttle runs. Combined with bad management this caused the corporation to go broke after a few years. The Odyssey was sold to Cartman Enterprises who made it into a tax and data haven. However, since it was far away from Earth 90% of the time, most people preferred orbitals such as Elysium, which were closer. And worse, the corporation did not dare to use new nuclear charges to give the Odyssey a new orbit, fearing it would damage the habitat. Plans to use a mass driver was abandoned since it would take far too long, and in the meantime the Odyssey would continue to be a drain on corporate resources.

The habitat was then sold to the Blue Sky Foundation who wanted to build a utopian society. However, shortly after declaring the Odyssey independent, the idealists discovered that they didn't have the expertise to maintain the habitat. Attempts to hire experts from the outside proved to be too expensive since buying the asteroid had used up most of their funds. They also had problems building a stable economy.

It was a sizable group of academics and humanists from Academion who came to their rescue. Having long since grown tired of the internal quarrels in their own habitat, they pooled their funds and made a deal with the Blue Sky Foundation. In exchange for them providing the necessary expertise and creating an economy that would allow the Odyssey to survive, they would be allowed to settle in the habitat and have an equal say. The Foundation accepted.

During the first few years there was considerable friction between the two groups. For instance; the debate raged for three months when they decided to rename the Odyssey in 226 a.t.. The utopians proposed 'Utopia' and was vehemently vetoed by the academics, the academics proposed 'New Academion' which in turn was vetoed by the utopians. In the end they settled for 'Tir Sorcha'. The name means 'the luminous land' and originates from Old Earth Celtic mythology. It was supposed to be a wonderful land where death and pain is unknown, and the inhabitants have everlasting youth and beauty.

On the economic side things went quicker. After several failed attempts they successfully established an economy based upon fabrication of speciality alloys in zero-gee factories. While the income was nothing to jump up and down of joy about - just barely enough to sustain the habitat - the asteroid colony was for the first time in history truly independent.

Over the next twenty years Tir Sorcha Habitat received a slow tickle of immigrants from Earth; mainly wannabe colonists who couldn't afford to go someplace else. This continued until immigration was closed down in 353 (but remained open for specialists).

In 255 the academic faction began to push for starting a mining venture on other asteroids to aid the weak economy in their little nation. Although the utopians didn't want to bother with the 'Outside', the academics eventually won through. They invested in mining equipment and quickly began mining carbonaceous asteroids for volatiles such as nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon, which were then sold to colonies seeking to expand their biospheres.

Although the economy continued to grow for the next two hundred years, Tir Sorcha Habitat would never have survived the Nanodisaster if the utopians hadn't gained ground in the habitat's political climate during the 2320s. While the utopians main goal was to build a paradise in their habitat, they knew that they would have to defend themselves if they were attacked. Exactly why someone would attack the still fairly unimportant habitat was unclear, but the utopians still managed to persuade the academic faction to go along with the idea of investing in defences � particularly blue goo.
By the 380s Tir Sorcha habitat already had substantial nanodefences, as well as more conventional weaponry. Over the years this evolved into survivalism; 'hope for utopia, prepare for hell' was the motto.

By 430 Tir Sorcha Habitat was no longer the obscure colony its founders had lived in. The boom in artificial biospheres in the 380s and onward had caused a huge demand of volatiles - which the people of Tir Sorcha Habitat were more than happy to provide with automated mining stations on a dozen asteroids. The habitat biosphere had also been expanded and was now populated by over three million people.

In order to compete in the market, many of them had begun tinkering with intelligence amplification. Most cybernetic enchantments in the habitat were now dealing mainly in this area, and geneering had also been used to create more intelligent offspring.

After the 'Ground Zero' nanite killed over a thousand people in the Kleopatra asteroid in 499, the leadership of Tir Sorcha adopted a healthy policy of paranoia and expanded the habitat's nanodefences substantially. They even went as far as requiring each citizen to carry implanted caches of blue goo. Later nanoswarms justified this.

The Nanodisaster

The people of Tir Sorcha Habitat lived in relative peace until the 530s, when the nanoswarms began. They survived unscratched through the chaos when hundreds of factions fought over He3 factories and amat farms, and was untouched by the break-up of the Orbital Alliance. But the real test of strength came with the Nanoutbreak.

Despite massive blue goo defences some of the hostile nanites found their way into the habitat. The damage was limited, however, as infected citizens deployed their nano caches. The gray goo was contained with minimal loss of life, and Tir Sorcha Habitat ended up as one of the lucky 30% of solar orbit habitats to survive. The mining stations wasn't nearly so lucky as each and every one of them was destroyed.

In their isolation, the people of Tir Sorcha Habitat began to increasingly use cyborgization and geneering to 'harden' themselves, i.e. tolerate harsher environments, more resistant to hostile nanites, etc.

Restoration

In the 610s they began to hope that the worst was over, that the nanoswarms had been defeated. They built new mining stations and began supplying decimated colonies with prefabricated modules, various equipment, some rather exotic cybernetic systems they developed while in isolation, volatiles and more.

The Nanodisaster had caused the people of Tir Sorcha Habitat to conclude that keeping to themselves like they had done in the past, would nearly guarantee that they would be destroyed by outside forces. They survived the nanoswarms only because they took note of what was happening on the outside and prepared themselves.

They founded the Tir Sorcha Cyberdemocracy, began greatly expanding their mining ventures in the belt, and set out to restore cis-solar habitats whose entire populations had been lost during the nanoswarms. They quickly began drawing immigrants from colonies which weren't so well of, but this influx became a flood when GAIA began the Great Expulsion. Realising that they could not maintain power in a society where they were no longer a majority, they began cloning large populations using aggressive in vito techniques. They also geneered several distinct physical features into their genome to separate themselves from Outsiders. This helped the process that would cause them to become one single unified clade within the next few decades.

Research into advanced blue goo defences began, and the Tir Sorchans did manage to close the technological gap somewhat. Although they were unable to compete with the megacorps in the long run, they remained a supplier of quality nanotech. They also began experimenting with radical cybernetics, some going as far as partially merging with AIs.

The First Federation

When the First Federation was born, the Tir Sorchans had built a small trade empire centred on the belt. Although they had not yet become a House, they had gone a long way in becoming a unified cyborg-su clade with a common ideology and worldview. They quickly became enthusiastic supporters of the Federation, hoping that Federation anti-trust laws would limit the megacorps while they themselves expanded.

Throughout the Imperialization Era the Tir Sorchans continued to prosper, focusing their attention on those clades, races and biospheres that remained independent from the Federation. In the 1400s they began expanding their influence outside the system, setting up trade stations and habitats in the populated systems closest to Sol. Usually they would fill economic niches that the megacorps had either overlooked or deemed to small to be worth their attention.

This process picked up speed with the discovery of the conversion drive. Although the ships were very expensive at the time, the Tir Sorchans quickly put them to use and built a substantial trading network throughout what would become the Inner Sphere.

House Tir Sorcha

One could finally say that the Tir Sorchans had become a House in their own right as the First Federation ended. Technically, they were still a cyberdemocracy, but the razor-sharp competition they faced had forced them partly into a meritocracy. Most of the decisions were left in the hands of hyperturings, posthumans, nanocyborgs and uploads who had merged with other uploads or AI.

Now they had grown powerful enough to compete directly with the megacorps. However, this didn't keep them safe from neither the megacorps nor other rival Houses. While the competition was fierce but inside the bounds of the law in the core systems, it was a different story altogether in the more outlying colonies. Skirmishes were frequent in those places where officials could be bribed and maintenance of law and order was lax.

This culminated with the infamous attack on Hamilton Orbital where one of their most ruthless competitors, Clade Ingolfsson, succeeded in killing over two hundred Tir Sorchans. The response from the House was quick and effective; barely a month later those directly responsible had been exterminated. After this incident the Tir Sorchans began arming their habitats with state of the art weapons and enough blue goo to survive another Nanodisaster.

When the Conver Ambi came into being, the Tir Sorchans immediately saw them as a threat. Although several habitats were subverted, the theocratic empire never managed to expand to Sol System and other core worlds. This limited the damage since that's where the most important Tir Sorchan habitats and outposts were located.

The Tir Sorchans continued to grow despite the Conver Ambi, consolidating their hold in the core worlds and setting up new trade routes outside of converant reach. Even though they were rocked by several serious interstellar hypereconomic recessions at this time, they showed themselves surprisingly flexible in limiting the damage. With the help of wormholes, House Tir Sorcha grew into one of the truly great Houses over the next millennia.

The Empires Wars

Officially the Tir Sorchans kept out of the fighting during the First Consolidation War, but it is rumoured that they supplied the Inner Sector of the Taurus Nexus with nanoweapons and cybernetic combat-upgrades. The House has of course hotly denied this, but their detractors point out that the Tir Sorchans would have benefited greatly from a NoCoZo extending into the heart of the Taurus Nexus.

When the Second Consolidation War broke out in 3694 the Tir Sorchans kept themselves neutral as they had done in the First. However, as the Geminga Orthodoxy was driven back they exploited the situation and established new habitats and outposts in the freed systems. Of course, the Tir Sorchans wisely decided to halt their expansion into ex-Conver Ambi systems when the Orthodoxy began imploding stargates.

When the War ended and the Second Federation began, the Tir Sorchans quickly consolidated their hold and branched out into the NoCoZo, seeking new opportunities to expand their power. The dense nexus of stargates helped them expand far outside the Inner Sphere, with trade routes with all of the major powers.

House Tir Sorcha continued to live in peace until the Version War.

The Version War

Although the Tir Sorchans did their best to keep out of the fighting, it was unavoidable that several habitats and outposts were damaged, subverted and destroyed during Dominion raids in NoCoZo territory, and the following Cyberian / NoCoZo attacks on Dominion and Negentropy Alliance.

The destruction of the Danab-Gantor Stargate Plex was the final straw for the Tir Sorchans. Fearing what escalating stargate destruction would do to their trade routes, they swiftly began relocating their most valuable assets to space controlled by the Communion of Worlds. They correctly assumed that the major Communion tenet of keeping out of trouble would cause the empaths to close down all outside wormhole links.

Even with the help of their hyperturing AIs, the House was seriously damaged by the war. Trade routes were cut off and habitats subverted or destroyed. But even so the damage was not crippling. As soon as the Version War ended the Tir Sorchans set out to rebuild what they had lost, and quickly became an important trade partner in the Communion, NoCoZo, Keter Dominion and Inner Sphere, with branches far out into the Middle Regions.

The economic boom in the Inner Sphere helped propel the House towards new heights, giving the Tir Sorchans a hand in all of the major trade routes. Tir Sorchan ideology flourished during this period.

It is rumoured that they established a large number of hidden backup-habitats in interstellar space somewhere in the Outer Volumes during the 5000s. Armed to the teeth with blue goo defences, these habitats were supposed to be safe havens to retreat to should a new Version War break out.

Re-Evaluation

During the 5500s many old Houses began to collapse due to corruption, decadence and rigid hierarchy. The Tir Sorchans were also stagnating despite their best efforts. They began experimenting with radical new forms of rulership, culminating with the implementation of a form of panocracy (detailed under Society and Culture).

In the new House Tir Sorcha adaptation became a major ideological tenet; changing conditions should be embraced and used to their advantage. This resulted in a strong 'Us and Them' view, where they very much like the empaths manipulated Outsiders to further the goals of the House, while staying fiercely loyal to their own.

The Tir Sorchans now entered a long more or less peaceful period, allowing them to expand their interests even further into Negentropy Alliance, Orion Federation, Sophic League, Metasoft and Terran Federation.

House Tir Sorcha Today

Today the Tir Sorchans are more powerful and have more vitality than ever before, having survived wars and disasters that have destroyed other houses. On the political side they are firmly entrenched in a web of alliances and treaties, and on the economical they rest on a firm foundation based upon the development of nanodefences and neuro cybernetics.

Still, they feel threatened by the reappearance of the Amalgamation, and the rise of new unpredictable empires such as the Emple-dokcetics, the Laughter Hegemony and the Paradigm. Some has suggested that they should colonize a system in the Outer Volumes and found their own empire, but this do not sit well with the majority. The vast distances and resulting time lag would make it impossible to keep their political and economical edge.

All in all, House Tir Sorcha feels uncertain about the future just like everyone else during this age.

Society and Culture

The Tir Sorchans never adopted an aristocracy unlike most other Houses. Instead they settled for a simple cyberdemocracy during the first four thousand years of their existence, which made them far more flexible than other Houses with their rigid hierarchies. Also, they were less prone to decadence and corruption.

However, in the 5500s time had finally caught up with the House. The ComEmp had collapsed, and so had many of the old Houses. The Tir Sorchans understood that they had to change in order to survive in an insecure universe, and replaced the cyberdemocracy with a panocracy.

They used their expertise in neural cybernetics to create a kind of technotelepathy. Mindreading nanites used a combination of heavily encrypted electromagnetic and ultrasonic media, allowing House members to share sensorium input and streams of consciousness, and in a few cases somatic and visceral experiences.

This process required a very large processing power and bandwidth, resulting in bulky equipment even with nanotech. The Tir Sorchan solution was grafting on a cybernetic 'tail' that was packed with nanoprocessors, quantum modules and the necessary equipment to receive and transmit signals, as well as the dedicated superturing AI that coordinated and interpreted the signals.

This affinitybond allowed the House members to link their minds through unityware and form the so-called 'All-Seeing Eye" - a bio-cybernetic hive mind. However, since hive minds inevitably either collapse or grow stagnant, the All-Seeing Eye is purely temporarily. The Eye is only formed once every year to review policy, and upon completion is dismantled. The day to day running of the House is largely left to the hyperturings and hyperbrights. The Eye may also be formed under special circumstances - last time was when the Amalgamation appeared and the Tir Sorchans were forced to scrap their latest 100 Year Plan.

It should be noted that the formation of the All-Seeing Eye require the aid of the in-house hyperturings, so the Tir Sorchans are more dependent on their AI than ever before.

Although the Tir Sorchans are fiercely loyal toward their own kind and generally distrustful of Outsiders (and downright hostile towards certain Houses and megacorps), there have been occurrences where Outsiders became honorary members. There has even been some exceedingly rare occurrences where Outsiders has been made into full members.

The difficulty for an Outsider to become a member lays not in the extensive genetic and cybernetic modifications the being must undergo, but in gaining the thrust of the House, which, as one hyperturing famously remarked, can be even more difficult than finding clarketech.

Physiology:

Note that this only applies to around 80% of all Tir Sorchans. Some are far more cyborgized, nanocyborgs even, while others exists as virtuals. There are also a small number of posthumans.

Most Tir Sorchan cyborgization deals with intelligence amplification, so most of the time enchantments are not visible to the naked eye. Geneering has gone further in altering the basic Tir Sorchan appearance from baseline standard.

Height usually ranges from 170 cm to 195 cm, although this can wary greatly depending on the extent of cyborgization. Facial features are not much different from a baseline's, except for the slightly larger eyes. Also, a mane of very fine hair grows down to the middle of their shoulder blades. This is one of several distinct physical features that were especially geneered into them during the Great Expulsion, as a way of separating them from Outsiders and unifying the Tir Sorchans. This feature has been preserved throughout the millennia through tradition.

The skull is more oval in shape, the torso is a little broader, and the limbs slightly longer than baseline standard (to give room for more implants). Internal organs has been geneered for optimum efficiency, and are more often than not enchanted or replaced using cybernetics. The hemoglobin in the blood as well as the heart-lung system has been modified to allow the Tir Sorchans to survive oxygen levels as low as 10% (assuming no cyborgization in this area). As a side effect, several habitats are off-limits to nearbaselines without oxygen masks (it is rumored that this is another deliberate action to separate them from Outsiders).

Finally, there is the tail that allows them to interface with other Tir Sorchans; it is basically an extension of the tailbone in baselines and nearbaselines. It is grafted on when a House member comes of age, and is around 80 cm long. Tir Sorchan children seldom leave the habitats, and can therefore use stationary signal interpreters when they wish to interface.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Espen Antonsen

Initially published on 19 December 2002.

page uploaded 19 December 2002, last modified 23 April 2003