Version War, The

Version War
Image from Bernd Helfert

Despite the mythology and legends that have sprung up around it, the Great Version War was neither the most costly in terms of biont and aioid lives lost (that dubious honour would go to the Second Consolidation War) nor in terms of infrastructure destroyed (the Oracle War was far more costly in that respect). Certainly most stargate nodes were destroyed, and a number of worlds, but, in terms of total civilian losses the proportion was perhaps only 10% that of the Consolidation Wars, and mostly due to rogue elements acting independently with the loss of communications.

Though other conflicts may have involved higher levels of material destruction and loss of life, the Version War was one of the most consequential conflicts in Terragen history. It brought about the end of the longest period of peace and cultural flowering the known galaxy has seen, the Second Federation, and the decline of the greatest empire the galaxy had known - the Greater Solar Dominion, and it initiated two hundred years of destruction in the Inner Sphere. Perhaps the most catastrophic spin-off of the war was the large number of relativistic fleets and autowars that continued to operate in the poorly policed outer volumes centuries after the cessation of hostilities. A subtler but more lasting effect of the Version War is that in putting an end to the Second Federation Ontology; it meant that no single agreed standardization would ever again dominate Known Space. Whether that is a good or a bad thing for Terragens is a matter of debate.




Timeline of the Version War

All dates in AT4445 - First of the Dominion-backed 'version sabotages'
c.4450 - Version Cold War
4456 - Joint Cyberian-Metasoft objection to degradation of protocol
4458 - God Emperor orders the Irna-Loran purge of the Dominion 'hawks'
4460 - several Cyberian cliques launch a number of ai viruses
4461 - joint Negentropist and Dominion Interstellar Police Task Force travels to Phoebus Hie
4464 - Deep Cover Dominion Agents infiltrate a Cyberian Cracker Cell
4466 - Dominion and Alliance forces launched police raids on a number of habitats deep in NoCoZo territory, but they are seized by NoCoZo insurance companies
4467 - A number of NoCoZo armies begin forming, in reaction to revisionist actions
4470 - Dominion forces occupied Jaynes in futile attempt to recover assets
4471 - Negentropy Alliance annexes Rengood
4472 - increased Cyberian/NoCoZo attacks on Negentropy Alliance
4476 - Dominion Alternate Ontology Implementation 2.0 , and Metasoft and Cyberian joint attack in response
4478 - Destruction of the Danab-Gantor Stargate Plex
4480 - more stargate AIs join blockade
4482 - Revisionist forces begin invasion and occupation of NoCoZo
4490 - Bourgatov, informal capital of the Second Federation, collapses into chaos
4496 - Cyberians take Mithras
4498 - attack by Negentropist raiders (or NoCoZo irregulars) brings MPA into the war
4500 - Sophic League Council and Communion of Worlds close their stargates
4521 - Softbot Cathedrals were destroyed by the Sagittarius Sphere
4556 - Dominion attack on Landau II
4582 - Alexandrian dyson destroyed in a NoCoZo/Negentropy Alliance clash
4598 - Straight Arrow destroyed by the Negentropist Fifth Relativistic Fleet
4650 - Imperial powers agree to call for cessation of hostilities
4653 - peace accords signed

Background and Leadup

As with all major conflicts, the Version War was an unavoidable tragedy, resulting from irreconcilably ideological differences among the Second Federation member states. Specifically, this was the result of a simmering rivalry between the Solar Dominion, which at the time was the largest military and memetic power in colonised space, and its erstwhile ally, the mighty vec house Metasoft Version Tree, which although owning far fewer systems had software standards and hardware installed throughout much of Second Federation. Metasoft had heavily backed the popular information protocols and cultural ontology. The Solar Dominion considered this a threat to its empire, seeing how even in its own client states many bionts ("bionts" in SecFedOnt class declarations) and aioids were abandoning their own protocols in favour of Metasoft. There was even a decline in the use of the Solarian tongue in favour of Fedspeak.

Beginning in 4445 the first of a number of Dominion-backed "version sabotages" occurred as breakaway groups interfered with the main galactic culture, mainly by political manoeuvering or suggesting constant revisions of the Ontology. Some of the earliest and most visible sabotages was the 4453 Reduced Physics RFC coup and the 4459 Locality Assignment Standard Revision Request, both fielded by the Shama Outsys, a formally independent but strongly Dominion-aligned clade. Although none of these were serious or important in the functioning of the Federation, they set a number of bad examples that Metasoft did not approve of.

Most archailectologists believe that the archai knew a conflict and the eventual overthrow of the ontology was coming from the very beginning, and quietly planning for the unavoidable while appearing to run things business as usual. (For a conflicting opinion see Marus Tan Polynyas, Chance, Free Will, and Civilisation - a new interpretation of Archailect sovereignty)

There have been many claims, especially by advocates of the History Without Censorship school of Dou M'Pai, the Young Jungs of Abraxas Habitat, and some of the early Biovirate Revisionists like Shio Berrol Waur that on a high level the archai were actually planning not only the rivalry but the war (using the Tratarus Transcend as a blind), possibly even manoeuvering towards it as early as before the Second Federation. The reasons that have been suggested are mainly evolutionary: the archai saw a risk of stagnation and permanent stability, and sought to teach the bionts a harsh but important lesson as well as stimulate new cladism. This has been vigorously criticised as mere conspiracy theology by the Pliny Society at Cecil Nexus, and the Branch Diderots of Parsons Cluster, renowned for their adherence to Historical Empiricism, but the idea that the Version War actually fulfilled some higher purpose or destiny has been an important part in many belief systems and political ideologies over the millennia since the War.


Alliances Form

By 4450 the situation had become a prolonged cold war, although very few at the time believed that war was inevitable. In any case, it was unlikely that the Dominion hyperturings would have been as bold had the Empire not procured a Mutual Defence Treaty with the Negentropy Alliance, then a middle-sized power, although still one to be reckoned with.

Some have questioned why the Negentropists did not go over to the Metasoft side and support the 2nd Federation Ontology. Why should they oppose such a superb protocol for the transmission and preservation of information? The reason is, as Peer Kess Grath persuasively shows in A question of Protocols - The Negentropy Alliance and the Version War, that the 2nd Federation Ontology were actually contrary to the Fifth Axiom of Negentropy, which affirms that only a stable, efficient social structure can oppose entropy and fulfill the Negentropic ethics. The Federation Ontology had to be, by its very nature, accepting of widely different cultures and modes of being. In contrast the Precepts puts definite limits on what is acceptable or not. To the strict Negentropists, the ones in control, the Ontology was instituting a dangerous anti-Order order, that if it grew too strong would undermine the basis of Negentropism itself.

As part of the Treaty obligations and a sign of good will, the Dominion also aided the Alliance in building up their fleet and military-industrial infrastructure, sharing with them their advanced military technology and efficient stargate engineer construction methods. The Negentropist citizens - especially those of the core worlds -also showed more discipline, self-sacrifice, and focus in the task at hand then the more indulgent bionts and aioids of the other empires. In less than two decades the Alliance went from being a reasonable but small power to a major one. This arms buildup actually played into the hands of the Standardisation axis, causing the skittish Cyberian Network and the otherwise lukewarm Bourgatov Alliance (which had traditionally competed with Metasoft and the NoCoZo) to ally themselves with the Ontology side.

From the beginning Metasoft was quick to get the Non-Coercive Zone and the Sagittarius Sphere on-side. The NoCoZo was a natural ally. Like Metasoft they strongly supported the Ontology, which was an excellent medium for trade and commerce, and their bionts favoured Fedspeak over Solarian, and they were rugged individualists who despised what they saw as the sycophantic attitude of the Solarians to their beloved God Emperor.

The Sagittarius Sphere had close ties to the NoCoZo, and was also a strong supporter of the Second Federation Ontology. During the centuries of the Federation it had made large territorial gains, assimilating other clades into the Sphere and building a strong deep space fleet as well, that had not hesitated to crush regional unrest when conventional diplomacy had failed. The hawks in the Sphere saw an alliance with Metasoft, then a military power second only to the Dominion, as a good opportunity to extend their astropolitical reach. In 4452 the militant Hager 5 explorer cyborg clade, under clademaster Innam Ho4 Hager, gained power, much to the surprise and chagrin of the ruling Mestheus Hegemony, who were forced to convenient a Coalition Party to stay in power.

The doves meanwhile, among them the Galaxy Peace Alliance and the New Ahimsa League, saw nothing but disaster in the course ahead. In the years immediately prior to the outbreak of war a number of worlds, including The Houssay PolisCluster, Epsilon Glaukos, and Aditi, actually defected from the Sphere and formed the so called Neutral Archipelago. (The Houssay PolisCluster and some of the minor habitats and worlds were later to escape destruction and survive as independent polities by virtue of strategic unimportance, and never rejoined the Sphere).

The Cyberian Network was a somewhat harder fish for Metasoft to net. It is well known, and has always been the case, that the Cyberians are not interested in fighting rl wars - they are happy to enjoy the delights of their virtual worlds, and always prefer simwars to the real thing. And although capable of constructing devastatingly potent ai viruses, they were extremely reluctant to be involved with anything that might entail an actual physical invasion or attack. But the Cyberian culture is very iconoclastic, and has a long history of pranksterism, hacking, and even info-terrorism against both the Empire of Rays and the Negentropist Alliance. In addition, the Foundation leadership was very concerned by the degree of armament buildup going on in some of the big Negentropy systems like Geburah Prime, Buchanon, and Alpha Tol. The Dominion was strongly anti-cyberian, and their ais told them it would definitely try to get rid of the subversive Cyberian Sphere as well as many of the NoCoZo habitats were cyberians lived. When the war was brewing, the Cyberian leaders knew that if they did not do anything, they had a good chance of ending up in a much more anti-cyberian universe. So although the vast majority Cyberians did not fight in any way, there were still quite a few hacker armies on the NoCoZo side.


Hacking Attacks, and the Revisionist Response

In 4456 the Cyberian Protocol Committee and the Metasoft Version Tree publicly announced concern over continued degradation of the purity of Second Federation protocol, and although not naming the Dominion publicly, it was clear to everyone who was being addressed. Even so, very little continued to happen, beyond the usual sporadic hacking attacks and war of memetic subversion for the "hearts and minds" of sapient beings. On the Dominion side, H.H. The God Emperor spoke out several times on the foolishness of memetic rivalry, saying that all sentients must work together for the common good, and following his famous 4458 Irna-Loran purge the militant school of Dominion hyperturings were removed from power, to be replaced by pragmatists.

Following the purge, the situation would certainly have stabilised, and the Second Federation would have continued pretty much as always, were it not for the fact that in 4460 several Cyberians cliques chose that time to launch a number of ai viruses. There was nothing new in this - Cyberians had been releasing ai viruses on and off for some two millennia. It is just that this happened to be an unfortunate time to do so ( a fact that the Cyberians, as always, chose to ignore). The Dominion and the Alliance both lodged stern protests with the Cyberians and their NoCoZo supporters. Unfortunately, they were dealing with cultures that did not have a centralised structure or command hierarchy. The NoCoZo is not even an empire, only a huge Free Zone! So whilst the local planetary administrators beamed back profuse apologies, they could not give guarantees such a thing would not happen again.

In response to repeated Cyberian and NoCoZo cracker attacks over the next year, a joint Negentropist and Dominion Interstellar Police Task Force travelled to Phoebus Hie to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. They found the authorities unhelpful and resentful of their presence, and their investigations were stymied at every angle. Nevertheless the hacking attacks ceased, so it seems that the local administration quietly put pressure on the cyberians responsible to either cease their operations or relocate to another system.

Over the next few years relationships once again improved. The Dominion issued the Alternate Ontology Implementation 2.4, with full Negentropist Support. So as not to infringe on Metasoft and the rest of the Second Federation, or to offend Metasoft or NoCoZo hyperturings or polities, and as per the Debnath Agreement, it was understood that this was only to be used within the territories of those two empires. Inevitably, and despite the joint announcement and ruling of the God Emperor and the Seat of Judgement that Implementation 2.4 was only for Dominion and Alliance use, the ontology began appearing among many independent and quasi-independent demopolies; especially those dissatisfied for whatever reason with the standardization powers.


Operation Viktor and the Start of the War

Then, a breakthrough for the revisionists. In 4464 Dominion Agents who had been working in deepsleep undercover managed to infiltrate a Cyberian Cracker Cell, and, upon activation, were able to betray the location of a number of Cells, including the famous Maesser Phantams. Immediately the Dominion Anti-Hacking Task Force launched a dramatic clandestine operation - Operation Viktor - that managed to capture several superbright hackers, and at least two Cyberian hyperturing virtuals. From the information thus gained, Dominion and Alliance forces launched police raids on a number of habitats deep in NoCoZo territory, without informing the local administrators first, and in one unfortunate incident resulting in the death of a number of bystanders.

Although the revisionist's main quarry, Orintergen, escaped unscathed, the Cyberian Cracker Network was nevertheless seriously damaged by these operations. Many NoCoZo corporations and administrators were also greatly offended that their territory and sovereignty could be violated in such a manner. Dominion "policing" in NoCoZo also encountered violent resistance from some groups. The PPL system even obliged some mercenary and coercion forces to intercede against Operation Viktor if any members of the Cyberians had contracts. In fact it was the NoCoZo insurance companies that - of course apologising profusely and suggesting that the Dominion should buy arbitration contracts - that started the actual war! Foreigners tend to forget that a non-state polity like NoCoZo does not go to war in a binary fashion, but rather as a percentage between 0% and 100%. And the "policing" raids were not (as some later centralist historians have suggested) the lead-up, but the actual start of the war. The war started the moment Operation Victor got involved with NoCoZo.

This is an inevitable result of the way the NoCoZo works, a factor that centralists sometimes have power understanding. When a member polity is attacked, that means the attacker is no longer protected under the Merrion accords. And while most members usually couldn't care less about this, there are always a sizeable number of ideologically motivated polities strongly supporting action, and of course other polities seeing business opportunities. That it was another empire who misbehaved doesn't change anything, and in fact lowers the threshold to strike back at Solarian and Negentropic holdings. Seizing starships, equipment and even citizens as indentured labor as restitution for damages incurred is not just legal, but viewed as a necessary deterrence.

This explains how it was that the NoCoZo insurance companies started the war, they actually did move in (apologising) with their sizeable forces to confiscate Solarian and Negentropic assets (including members of Operation Victor!). And they were definitely no pushovers; they could afford the best violence management consultants in NoCoZo. Meanwhile anti-revisionists would be starting their own attacks.

Even worse, NoCoZo individuals and militant factions, and a number of mercenary and hedonistic armies were established. Excitement-seekers, anti-imperials, and arms dealers from all over the galaxy flocked to NoCoZo worlds and star systems like Atlantis and New Muntad, Conway and Argelander, Merrion and Hyttinen, and began establishing armies and fleets, some ragtag, others frighteningly well armed and organised. Especially among the more loyalist of the old Sagittarius Sphere worlds of the STC, there were those wore bore long grudges against the Alliance and the Dominion, forgetting of course that it was their side that had begun the atrocities in the first place. It wasn't just random maniacs doing this, but many major NoCoZo polities would support this.

Many Dominion planners would likely have a hard time, despite their intelligence, to handle the profoundly different NoCoZo culture. They came from a hierarchical culture where chains of command were essential, and the idea of one group independently of everybody else declaring and implementing war was simply absurd. Add to this the assumption that the NoCoZo would not want to get into a war since it was so obviously vulnerable and a hefty dose of Dominion arrogance, and they would make the fatal mistake of "policing" it.

It was also to be expected that the Cyberians would equip the militias with state of the art intrusion AIs and cracker virtuals. What seems stranger was the Metasoft would provide technical and military assistance, even if this was not as extensive as that provided by the big NoCoZo arms corporations like Federation Arms, Militeck, and Trillicon. But, as contemporary analysts were quick to observe, the Metasoft vecs were scoring valuable points by coming down on the side of the individualist and free zone "biont in the habitat", against the big, imperious, and often resented centralisation archai. More than a few anthropists were inclined to look more sympathetically at Metasoft, and purchase and use Metasoft wetware and firmware. And of course, this all strengthened the Standardization position.


Escalation

The situation worsened when, in an attempt to retrieve confiscated assets, Dominion forces occupied Jaynes in 4470. Local resistance proved more intense than the revisionists had expected, but they kept to the codes of civilized warfare, using only beam, kinetic, and khaki goo devices, and not deploying thermonuclear, amat, unselective nanite, or singularity weapons.

In 4471, with permission for a Localized Action received by the Lord from Seat of Judgement, the Negentropist Alliance fifth fleet annexed Rengood, which their intelligence hyperturings informed them were the origin of the ai viruses. This, plus the Dominion actions, galvanized more otherwise neutral NoCoZo and Free Zone polities, over to the standardisationist side.

The Revisionists originally only wanted to retrieve their captured assets, then they would withdraw their forces. But the locals saw it as a war of occupation, and sheer indignation that these centralist Archailect lackeys would invade their turf. In early 4472 a coordinated action on the part of the stargate AIs (who were resentful at the rude way they had been addressed and how they were being taken for granted by the occupiers) shut down the local wormhole mouths. Jaynes and Rengood were isolated from the rest of the galaxy. Hacking and terrorist goo attacks on the occupiers quadrupled. Their lines of supply and communication cut off, the occupying forces hunkered down; the Negentropists more tactfully retreating to the Rengood Oort Cloud. Several other NoCoZo stargates began to join the blockade. Although reinforcements were sent (the Dominion even sending a linelayer to Jaynes) these would take many years to arrive from the nearest open stargate

Ironically, in the following decades, a number of revisionist warships in NoCoZo territory were subverted by corporate hyperturings selling insurance! In the process of extended conversations, the standardization hyperturings used quite authentic simulations to show the ships that the number of local guerrilla forces meant that - short of exterminating every sapient and transapient entity in the system - their situation was unwinable. These ships played no part in the war, but later on turned up as insurance salesbeings. Claims that they were actually subverted by cyberian metacognitive viruses have been roundly denied by both the standardization hyperturings and the ships themselves.


Blitzkrieg victories for the Standardisationists

In 4476, as a response to the infamous Alternate Ontology Implementation 2.0 from the Dominion, the Metasoft Version Tree publicly declared that it would not stand by this degradation of the purity of protocol, and declared that it would enforce version and standard purity. Privately, with the help of the Cyberians and NoCoZo radicals, it had decided to capitalise upon the revisionist desperation at finding themselves enmeshed in the NoCoZo quagmire, and launched a number of ai viruses, which had already infected much of the military and civilian infrastructures of the Revisionist powers. Only the relativistic fleets in the outer volumes were not effected. The Revisionists were not unprepared. Knowing what to expect, they had undertaken civil defense works to minimize the damage as the systems were off-line. Although they could not stop the viruses or prevent that some important systems were subverted, but they could, taking advantage of their centralist infrastructure, create backups and defenses.

Nevertheless the invading viruses proved insidious, and more destructive than anticipated. The Revisionists went into damage control, disinfecting as many ships and AIs as possible.

Wave after wave of Attack Units from the Metasoft Fourth, Ninth, Fifteenth, and Twenty-Third Mechanoid Combined Swarms easily overcame the Solarian defenders at Spallaton, Zeta Gregoria, Kii, and Icehouse, but the attack on Camissonia Prime was stymied, as the defenders had managed to get their battlegroup back online and, with only moderate casualties, prevent the main stargates being taken out. Hyperion held against elements of the Third Heavy Drone Swarm, but at the cost of rather heavier casualties.

Meanwhile, in a combined and superbly coordinated attack the Sagittarius Sphere Fourth Fleet and the Metasoft Raptor Series battledrones struck via the stargates at targets throughout the Negentropy Alliance. Alliance strength was at one half, many of their ships still being debugged of Cyberian viruses. The Negentropists lost control of Multon, Viktor4 and Stonec, and suffered heavy losses at Sheng Wei, Daffy and Gegton X, being forced to forcibly dismantle their stargates (which caused a long-running stargate ai grudge that continues even now) to prevent Standardisation Reinforcements from capturing the systems.

The Negentropist Alliance found themselves fighting on two fronts, for NoCoZo all-volunteer fleets attacked from the other side, both through wormholes and in relativistic ships along the borders. Added to this were the commercial fleets. During the lead up, many fleet-companies had emerged to profit from the situation. The Negentropy systems Kiertotähti, St. Planck, and Little Nebula quickly fell to the invaders, but the Negentropist Second Fleet was able to hold Bancroft, and the relativistic Third Fleet had just entered through the Imbri Stargate, where it made short work of the relatively undisciplined NoCoZo Varger Moines Raiders. The Negentropist Fourth Fleet wasn't as lucky. It was passing through the Danab-Gantor Stargate Plex to come to the aid of the besieged Pico Danab System when the defenders, the NoCoZo Untia 3rd Devastators (from Yaga Prime), seeing themselves outgunned, detonated the gate, destroying much of the fleet (and themselves) in the high energy pion and gamma ray backwash. This was also the first instance a major destruction of a Stargate Plex, an act that had up until recently been regarded as unthinkable and was in breach of all conducts of civilised warfare.


The destruction of Wormhole Gates

Gate Explosion
Image from Anders Sandberg
The destruction of the Danab-Gantor Stargate Plex seen from the surface of Pico Danab II

One philosopho-historical Keterist shares his philosophy of the wormhole destruction in the Version War:
The layout of wormholes through space is like unto the pathways of light in a photonic circuit board. But if the paths of the photons were always the same, would there be any calculations performed? No. From time to time a circuit must close. This closing is the ending of one set of possibilities, but it is also the beginning of another set. An "off" allows for an "on" that might not have been otherwise.

Thus it must have been for the betterment of all that the gods decreed the wormholes collapse. Else the calculations that brought the universe to it's present state would never have happened
.
The destruction of the Danab-Gantor Plexus was the first of many. Even today, many details are sketchy, and the true causes are not fully understood. Of the several schools of thought, the "Breakdown of the Rules of War" school argues that once other warfleets discovered that a major plexus was destroyed, they quickly updated their plans and also destroyed nearby stargates in order to gain a tactical advantage now when the laws of civilized warfare were evidently breaking down. The chain reaction came about simply because too many well armed groups were nervously waiting for "the other side" to do something. However, although a couple of fleets on the NoCoZo side did indeed employ this strategy, this was not so in the case of the revisionists or even among most of the standardizationists. In contrast the "higher toposophic intervention" school argues that some force in the highest reaches of the AI-sphere reached out and destroyed them; to this day it is debated what it was and why. But evidence gathered afterwards suggest that the conflicts going on between the high-level Powers were heating up at an exponential rate, and the destruction (followed by forced isolation) prevented escalation effectively. Some have suggested Sophic or Keterist intervention, but there is no trace of what really happened.

Whatever the cause, these events sent shock waves throughout the Gate AI community. Although many of the wormhole AIs remained committed to the war, some - especially the more independent and non-aligned ones, began shutting down, initiating what became known as the Stargate Blockade. As a result, fleets were cut off from centers of command and supply, and many vessels without sustained relativist capacity were stranded hundreds of light years from home, with no possibility of returning for the duration of the war. The lucky ones were eventually resupplied by relativistic fleets from home, but these were a very small minority. Some hunkered down to weather the onslaught of the locals, a few tried to open diplomatic discussions and call for a truce, some made things worse by being more aggressive (often there were atrocities on both sides), some fled for the neutrality of interstellar space, and more than a few, after many decades without supplies and having weathered constant hacking and goo attacks, sued for peace.


The Revisionists Gain Ground

Although suffering outright losses as high as 40 to 50% of capital vessels, with huge tracts of empire fell to the invaders, and many of their non-relativistic forces stranded following the Gate blockade (admittedly the standardizationists were in the same boat!), the Revisionists managed to weather the original onslaught. Once they had their fleets fully debugged the tide began to turn, and the disciplined Solarian and Negentropist fleets began to make short work of the courageous but poorly coordinated NoCoZo forces. The Solarian Ammon-Ra Fleet was able to recapture the poorly defended Fontenac system, and the Negentropist First Fleet (commanded by Admiral Warika Juno) retook Little Nebula without much difficulty. Against the Metasoft battledrones things were not so easy, as these had been digging in in preparation for the inevitable onslaught. The Solarian Fourth Army Group under Field Marshall Vaza Ault III retook Spallaton with heavy casualties, but the Seventh (Geb) Imperial Fleet was unable to reclaim Kii.


The War of Attrition

The Metasoft-Dominion front was largely static as both sides had secured their respective stargates using some of the up until then largest defence complexes in existence. The breaches in the front were however regions of intense fighting, as defenders attempted to reclaim the lost stargates and attackers took the advantage of quickly dispersing through other stargates in order to appear at strategic positions. Especially the Solar Dominion found itself vulnerable as Fons Luminis itself was widely connected to many systems dangerously close to (or in) the front. It was becoming clear that to penetrate the front, circuitous routes through other parts of the nexus had to be used.


Hrado's Rangers and the attack on Cygexpa

The war raged as immense battlefleets were launched through those still operating stargates in the wormhole nexus, where the battle raged over which side would control strategic links and crossroads. Neutral groups were forced to either take side or let the fractions take control over their wormholes.

In 4488 NoCoZo irregulars - Hrado's Rangers - under the brilliant but psychopathic "General" Samm Hrado, launched an unprovoked attack on the neutral Cygexpa system of Vadne Gerr, destroying all the major biospheres with the loss of 280 million lives. Hrado claimed it was a genuine mistake, and that he had been led to believe that it was Negentropist System. "Besides," he is reported by his enemies to have said, "what's a few googels anyway?" (apologetics have always claimed that such a statement was totally out of keeping with General Hrado's "honourable" character.). In any case, the damage was done. Every major clade of House Cygexpa signed a treaty with the Revisionists, and the Nineva warrior clade announced they would not rest until every genetic trace of every biont in the Hra's Rangers, and all of their families, clones, and banked genomes back in NoCoZo space, had been reduced to monatomic gas. NoCoZo cynics have pointed out that the Cygexpans were itching for a fight anyway, and noted that they had supported Dominion calls for revision of the ontology from the beginning, and relationships with the Sagittarius Sphere had never been good. But there is no denying the Cygexpan sense of outrage at the atrocity of the genocidal attack on a neutral system.

Nothing more was heard from Hrado's Rangers, who fled to the outer volumes, "to regroup for our next offensive" in the General's words.


Relativist War

Some archailectologians wondered why the AI Gods did not step in then and there to stop things getting further out of hand. Others say that the Lord of Rays and the Just One did not wish to give the impression their sentients could be harmed without retribution, even if the whole thing was an accident (assuming it was, which few at the time believed). In any case speculation on what goes on in the minds of the archai is bound to be dubious. All the stargates were to be shut down until they could be safely debugged of viruses (a difficult task because some AIs considered shutting down a diminishment of their own essence), and the Dominion and Negentropist forces decided to occupy the NoCoZo and part of the Terran Federation. Their relativistic fleets advanced, making short work of the NoCoZo defenders. The professional Terran Federation fleets were better equipped, resulting in a tense standoff and a series of cat and mouse games that lasted for years, with Revisionists hunting TerranFeds, and TerranFeds hunting Revisionists

With many of the stargates either closed or destroyed, the involved relativistic fleets, operating in isolation, under regional commanders. Here the disciplined Imperials and Negentropists behaved with the most honour, carefully abiding (with only a few regrettable exceptions) to the Sant-Andre Convention.

Advancing into NoCoZo space the Dominion Imperial Fleet (Fleets Horus and Aton, and the Tiphareth Relativistic BattleGroups) won easy victories, capturing world after world. Kebu fell, then Surga, Grand Gekko, Zompa, and Delta Dollah. Even Merrion suffered relativistic bombardment several times. The Dominion however failed to take into account the fact that the NoCoZo is based on having independent and flexible organisations. The Dominion might have a great advantage when fighting with a working chain of command, but the NoCoZo were and are able to fight without it. This was a great advantage once the major wormhole links were broken. Another factor going against the Dominion is that many of the NoCoZo worlds and habitats were populated by armament libertarians and infowar experts who had plenty of software and hardware weaponry at hand, even in the civilian populations, making them formidable at guerrilla warfare. The invaders found themselves enmeshed in a hornets nest of high-tech guerrillas making every move so costly and chaotic that they were nearly paralysed.


The Mithras Coup

In 4496 Cyberian software agents led by copies of the Grand Wizard level infiltrator ai Orintergen made the perhaps most flawless and devastating virtual coup of the entire war. In a swift operating level perversion attack on the local information infrastructure they froze most of the major planais on Mithras, rerouted the central command structure and became systemwide roots. The attack caused a minimal loss of biont life. In place of the Divine Order the cyberians instituted a fairly simple sociolegal maintenance program using bots and nanospies to keep the system working and forestall any uprisings, while they attempted to decipher the surviving Divine Order ais and find a satisfactory solution to what to do with them. Over the following years the relationship between the population and cyberians gradually softened, only partially through the use of neural or memetic modification (despite strong Solarian claims to the contrary). By 4530 the coup was sociologically complete. The peculiar Fata Morgana mixture of virtuality and reality developed both from the cyberian sociointegration and from the accidental disinhibition of many network systems due to the reconfiguration attempts of many low-level ais.


The MPA's Reluctant Involvement

The Mutual Progress Association, although supporting the Federation Ontology, had remained neutral, watching nervously from the sidelines, retooling their industrial infrastructure over to weapons production. In 4487, following a tense standoff with elements of the Cygexba FarStrike Attack Group they began designing devastating robot warships known as autowars.

In 4498 an unexpected attack by rogue Negentropist raiders on MPA stargates at the Purcell and Yo Kriemhild GateNodes, using antimatter weapons and resulting massive loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, and brought the MPA into the war. The Alliance itself has always denied its forces were involved, and points the finger at NoCoZo irregulars in chameleoned ships, or at militants within the MPA itself looking for an excuse. Whatever the causes (most disinformation on all sides, the most on the Standardisation sides, with authorities of the calibre of Peer Kess Grath and Academician Tilga5 Halliday arguing persuasively for Negentropist innocence), the MPA Defender Series Autowars struck suddenly and with devastating force via the stargates (most of the links between the Negentropists and the MPA were still functioning) at targets throughout the Negentropy Alliance, turning the tide once again in favour of the Standardisation side.


The Sephirotic Neutrals

The Communion and Sophic League, strategically located between Metasoft and NoCoZo in the wormhole nexus and a prime entrance into both for the Dominion, was being pressured from all sides. In 4500 the League Council and the Communion Aphrodithe made a joint announcement that they were closing their stargates to all external traffic immediately. The decision caused many border skirmishes and outright attacks over the next years as well as widespread internal dissension, but it proved to be a working strategy. Some Sophic members, especially the Logarchy of Heun and the Meliorists of Tia'ke, continued to allow ships through which led to their ostracism. In the case of Tia'ke, they were annexed in 4523 by the Seventh Imperial Fleet and subsequently largely destroyed in the continual Metasoft attacks.

The Caretaker Gods, Keter Dominion and Utopia Sphere were more successful in keeping their borders secure, largely due to widespread respect and fear of their powerful AI clades. The main exception was the attempt of the NoCoZo Kampradd Fleets Inc. to use Epicuros XV as a base against the nearby Negentropic systems. In 4594 the base as well as several Kampradd installations elsewhere were annihilated with magmatter-powered replicators, a clear signal that the Utopia archailect did not accept the intrusion. Whether their military power would have been up to defending themselves against large scale intrusions remains unknown.


The Stargate War

Not all the stargate AIs joined the blockade (the Negentropist and Dominion stargate AIs were notorious for their enthusiastic support of the war). As a result, the war was particularly fiercely fought over those stargates that remained open. An illustration of what was involved in battles of this period that seem unimaginable to today's galaxy, can be shown by the following extract from Ltd Col. Carrs Sull'van's classic Interactive, Attackships and Fortifications of the Version War

"The StarGate Plexi of even the provincial Centers, to say nothing of the big capitals like Fons Luminis, Gevurah Prime, Straight Arrow, Djed, and Merron, were ridiculously well defended. Every functioning wormhole was surrounded with particle beam mines that attacking anything emerging without the correct authorisations within one or two milliseconds. Warships had to travel at close to lightspeed here, aiming at the wormhole, blasting through and hopefully getting past the defenses within a few milliseconds.

A millisecond equals 300 kilometers at lightspeed. Within this radius of the wormhole there are particle weapon mines aimed in all directions, firing if whatever comes through is not sending the right signal. It was necessary to spend quite a bit of resources sending decoys to be blasted before you can get something past the 1000 kilometer main containment sphere. A typical attack would consist of a stream of decoys with one real ship, all streaming through the hole and being attacked from all sides. Relativistic explosions everywhere, likely some nasty missiles and particle weapons being thrown around, and maybe the drone gets out in free space, and can set off to do something nefarious (The Solarians often would try to sneak a tiny linelayer into the enemy system, while Metasoft's favourite tactic was to seed particularly virulent forms of aibots that would undertake a crude but effect form of assimilation of military and civilian networks)."

But although the large centers were well defended, the lesser worlds faired badly. In 4512 the small non-aligned planet of El-Sain 998-I was repeatedly attacked by elements of the Twelfth Imperial Fleet (2nd through 10th Ordinance Squadrons) attempting to pass through the wormhole at such high velocities that the existing defenses could not keep up. the defences were several years out of date and the colony lacked the resources to obtain updated monitors or mines). Tired of the raids, but unwilling to destroy their expensive wormhole link, the citizens of El-Sain 998-I instead towed a Type-Y ice planetoid into position in front of the wormhole. This planetoid was pulverized by the next enemy squadron that slammed into it at 95% of lightspeed (which was unhealthy for the enemy ships as well). They repeated this defense until the war degenerated, and their system was apparently forgotten by the major powers.


The Dirty Wars

Tactics like the 4498 excuse for the MPA to enter the war, was just one example of a "dirty wars" campaign developing as civilised standards fell apart. These became increasingly common as the years passed.

Another example was the 4540 attack by Sagittarius infiltrator fleet on Tichy using neuronano mental control replicators. The infiltrators played hide-and-seek with the local forces in the outer system while the neuronano spread through the planetary immune defences, reducing the planetside civilization to barbarism.

Another such instance involved the Negentropist outpost Kang 554-0-2234 Gm-A (an asteroid base around a small red star). In 4587 its cyborg inhabitants were infected by a Cyberian 'mutiny' program causing them to all challenge the chain of command at the same time, convinced those of higher rank were dooming the colony. This was a very early instance of what would become a common tactic of subversion of all forms of life.


The Voyage of Admiral Tka Lett-Vorek — Myth and Reality

One of the most extraordinary figures of this time was Admiral Tka Lett-Vorek, the commander of the Interpolity Combined Expeditionary Fleet. This much is known as fact. In 4520 the neutral system of Peta Dromanis was attacked by Metasoft autowars pursuing a damaged and fleeing Dominion corvette, the Captain Whitkar, that had been granted temporary sanctuary in the system, with the loss of twenty millions lives. The previous disparate world-states united under the local superpowers of the Idao Orbital Band, the Thomasborogh Hegemony, and House Valinder-Laton to avenge the atrocity, and protect their borders from further incursion. After some squabbling over who should lead the expeditionary force, in 7523 the eccentric but popular Admiral Tka Lett-Vorek was placed in charge.

This is the myth. Lett-Vorek led his small but capable relativistic fleet deep into Metasoft territory, only to be surrounded by vastly superior forces and cut off from supplies... However, he was a master of out-guessing 'grunt' AIs in charge of enemy autowars by using less-than-optimal tactics, constantly surprising them and supplying his fleet by piracy. Lett-Vorek attacked deeper and deeper into enemy space, charging into systems not expecting enemy action (and therefore less than fully prepared) and then destroying wormholes, cutting off his own means of escape. Although seemingly a kamikaze strategy, Lett-Vorek actually was using a very circular route through the wormhole networks to emerge into friendly space again, after ravaging the enemy's far sectors and 'living off the land' He was one of the few genuine war heroes of the chaotic time.

This is the historical reality (as reconstructed by cliological research intellects). Although he did indeed embark on a relativistic expedition into Metasoft territory, at no time did he face superior forces (most of the Version Tree fleet was engaged along the Dominion border). Employed on Lett-Vorek's flagship Nelson was a second toposophic power known as "Vec Dreamings in Molectronic Ultraviolet", who happened to be a long-time sympathiser of Metasoft software and products. D. D. in M. U. explained what had happened in Peta Dromanis through the local Metasoft use of excessive force, to the wormhole AIs. While some remained aloof, considering that the Peta Dromanis polities had violated their neutrality by giving aid to a hostile (actually most law of space hyperturings support the Peta Dromanis action), many were sympathetic. It didn't take much for the AIs, already skittish about destruction and possible destruction of stargates, to join the blockade by closing down their services. In this way no less than 57 stargates went on indefinite strike (first allowing Lett-Vorek's fleet through before closing).

Inevitably some of the more militant wormhole AI's betrayed the Interpolity Combined Expeditionary Fleet to the Metasoft home guard defence forces, and their following a series of rather bloody firefights and flight into deep interstellar space. In the end, only 9% of his original force actually made it back.

Much later, long after the war had ended, Lett-Vorek was to be mythologised by anthropist hagiographers as "the man who opposed the aioid might". Ironically, Lett-Vorek was always an enthusiastic supporter of hu-ai harmony, and apart from that much of his strategy was formulated by hyperturings, there is the fact that among his crew he was proud to count several capable vecs, including his trusted Assistant Executive Officer, Commander "Jack" (this fact being conveniently excluded from the Anthropist accounts).


Genocide

Bioship
Image from Anders Sandberg
Soft Cathedral carrier ship Allosaurus, escaping from the Taung Offensive in 4522. The Allosaurus was transporting a complement of Offensive Terraforming Beings to Taung when the system came under attack from the Sagittarius Sphere. The ship managed to escape using the OTBs as makeshift sacrificial defense drones, and eventually reached Utte Vais in the Negentropy Alliance after a 340 lightyear journey.

As the war continued, the wormhole nexus was gradually crippled by destruction, and relativistic support fleets began to course through interstellar space. Biospheres were destroyed by antimatter, relativistic bombs and singularity devices, whole species of vecs, cyborgs and tweaks wiped out by viruses, cultures hijacked by mind control nanodevices and turned into zealous allies and several major Houses destroyed utterly. The standardisationist Bourgatov Alliance was totally destroyed early in the war, as were the revisionist Peshawars and House Roanaka.

The Softbot Cathedrals were destroyed by the Sagittarius Sphere in 4521 when they infected the Cathedral core systems with conversion weapons which destroyed their stars and planets - since then the whole region has been extremely dangerous for anyone not equipped with defensive transapientech).

This action, overshadowing even the Bourgatov genocide by killing 32 billion entities and eventually destroying over 126 solar systems, made many of the Sphere's allies uneasy and caused widespread disfavor.

In 4538 the Sagittarius Sphere was crippled by long-range attacks on its remaining wormhole links from Cygexpa and the unexpected rebellion of Kellesh-Mai, a major AI god that had up to now been content to lead its faithful in economic mysticism. In 4598 Straight Arrow, the headquarters of the Sagittarius Sphere, was attacked and destroyed by the Negentropist Fifth Relativistic Fleet, who however suffered serious losses at the hands of the defending Sparta IX Series replicants at the battle of Straight Arrow. MPA Sentinel Class autowars, although arriving too late to save Straight Arrow, finished off what was left of the Negentropist Fifth fleet.

It is notable that so few of the allies of the Sphere came to its aid; although the NoCoZo Norma-Centaurus Military Association fleets could have come to its aid during the critical 4560's, it instead focused on harassing the corewards Negentropy Alliance.


Guerrilla Resistance

With most of the stargates gone, the war now involved relativistic fleets, operating in isolation, under regional commanders. Here the disciplined Solarians and Negentropists behaved with the most honour, carefully abiding (with only a few regrettable exceptions) to the Sant-André Convention.

Advancing into NoCoZo space the Solarian Imperial Fleet (Fleets Horus and Aton, and the Tiphareth Relativistic BattleGroups) won easy victories, capturing world after world. Kebu fell, then Surga, Grand Gekko, Zompa, and Delta Dollah. Even Merrion suffered relativistic bombardment several times. The Solarians however failed to take into account the fact that the NoCoZo is based on having independent and flexible organisations. The Solarians might have a great advantage when fighting with a working chain of command, but the NoCoZo were and are able to fight without it. This was a great advantage once the major wormhole links were broken. Another factor going against the Dominion is that many of the NoCoZo worlds and habitats were populated by armament libertarians and infowar experts who had plenty of software and hardware weaponry at hand, even in the civilian populations, making them formidable at guerrilla warfare. The Solarians found themselves enmeshed in a hornets nest of high-tech guerrillas making every move so costly and chaotic that they were nearly paralysed.


Koroko of the War

A tale is often told among the loyalist Metasoft peasants on Thiga 555 regarding the archailects and their relation to one another:

During the (Version) War an S2 enemy general Chot Tzuei through clever and valiant subterfuge captured an S4 Metasoft node. Now, certain events of the war, sub-patterns of the conflict had given the general reason to believe that the spread of ontology might not be the only goal of the conflict. But it was known, even to the enemy, that S3 Metasoft nodes do not lie, though they might sometimes withhold the truth, so Chot Tzuei put a question to the node while having it dismantled:

"You, no doubt, being an S3 node, have some insights into the nature of this conflict that I lack. Tell me then, are the ontological differences between our (translates as: masters/parents/partners) the true heart of this conflict, or is there something greater at stake? Is it right that I and the forces under my muster continue to oppose Metasoft or should we pursue another course?"

The S4 node replied, "Whether or not there are greater things at stake is not something I have authorization to reveal. It is enough that you oppose Metasoft."

For a full 0.05 seconds Chot Tzuei stood respectfully by meditating on the seraiph's response, while the animating algorithms of the node were forcibly degenerated into a chaos of quantum noise.

And so you see, children, it must be for us also to do as the seraiph commands, even if we guess there are deeper reasons than those we seem to know.
  • - On occasion, high level Metasoft based nodes did lie during the Version War, but did so as often to their own troops as to the enemy, for reasons of their own. It is correct that many nodes developed a penchant for presenting the enemy with non-misleading facts in a truncated format which supplied an immediate tactical advantage to neither side. The reason for this process is unclear at the baseline level, although many theories exist.
Additional note: it almost goes without saying that the folk tales of loyalist peasants have many exaggerations in them. The toposophic values mentioned with regard to the node and the enemy general are most likely inflated in an attempt to convey a meeting of great minds.

Also note the anonymity of the node and the sympathetic nature of the enemy general. Such seemingly out of place elements are common among loyalist peasant tales, possibly arising from a slowly fading post-war Metasoft engineered peace promotion meme.


The Destruction of Landau II, and the Metasoft counterattack

In 4556 a fleet of Dominion stealth linelayers managed to approach the Landau system, opening several wormholes for the Dominion fleet and releasing over 140 relativist warheads. The strike, called Operation PullPlug, hoped to decapitate the Metasoft effort. The surprise and strength of the attack devastated much of the Landau defense systems and destroyed the main habitats, but it was to a large extent a strategic mistake. Metasoft was not centralised to the extent the Solarians tended to view it, and while the loss of the system cost the empire much it was not a crushing blow. Instead Metasoft deliberately sacrificed the system in a massive stargate destruction which seriously crippled many Solarian ships, kept up a harassing action that slowed all fleet movements and (since two of the approach stargates had been destroyed) delayed much of the fleet in the system as a strong counterattack was mounted along the Denari front.


The Liberator Series Autowars

Mother of Machines
Image from Dieter Ludmann
Liberator B Series Autowars in field trials at Riebert III. The Liberator Series autowars were a deciding factor in halting the Negentropist advance into MPA space. Note the nanomorph drones in the foreground.

By 4560s the MPA was swiftly losing ground to the advancing Negentropist Third, Eight and Ninth Fleets (due to losses merged into a single tactical unit and commanded by Admiral Inez U), and the Solarian Fleet Ammon-Ra (now under the command of Admiral Tav Aani). The venerable Defender Series autowars, and its successors the Guardian and the Sentinel Series, had proven unable to halt the advance. The Revisonists had learned a way to destabilize the singularity in the Bias Drive Unit of the Defender and Guardian autowars, causing them to to explode, while the otherwise potent Sentinel class was proving vulnerable to hacking. The invaders would leave a small garrison and a support squadron at the capital of each conquered system to ensure compliance, which was usually sufficient as the citizens of MPA worlds were not as resourceful as the NoCoZoites at fighting back at the oppressors. (In fact for the conquered habitats and worlds the war was effectively over. The only demand the occupiers made was renunciation of the MPA and nominal allegiance to Alliance or Dominion (depending on the occupier) sovereignty. Those who complied were treated well and allowed to go about their business (including regional government and all internal affairs); those who didn't were installed in camps under nanotech guard).

The MPA Design Task Force on Chodas V worked closely with aioids and autowar downloads to come up with a weapon that would never be approved if the leadership in Djed were not certain they were facing certain annihilation; the Liberator Series Autowars. The Liberator was not only larger, more costly (at a time when the regime could barely afford to sustain their present output), more heavily armed and armoured, with a Displacement Drive unit and far more elaborate encryption codes and ICE and firewall defences, but it also had greater neumann capabilities and a extremely high mutation rate (the justification being this adaptability was necessary in the face of Revisionist abilities to hack the Sentinel Series). The mission of the Liberator, as its name indicated, was to free the captured MPA systems from the Revisionist yoke. The MPA High Command retained the autoshutdown codes (the ais had compromised on this point) so that, if necessary, the mutated autowars could be deactivated at the end of the war, if for some reason they would not power down voluntarily (there had been stories of previous autowars going rogue, and in one tragic case even attacking an MPA system for "oppressing its sentient rights")

In the end leadership fears proved groundless (as the ais assured them they would). The Liberator proved to be an exceptionally robust, capable, and reliable autowar, and at the bloody battle of Haiku-Pauwela Ascension the Revisionist vanguard was turned back. For centuries the autowars and the negentropist fleets played cat and mouse games across MPA and Negentropist space. The Solarians realised the situation was hopeless, and Admiral Tav Aani's Fleet Ammon-Ra was recalled to defend Neu Eden, which (news had been sneaked through a neutral wormhole) was coming under heavily attack by Metasoft swarms. By the time he reached the system a century later it had changed hands several times.


The Relativistic War

With the once triumphant Solarian and Negentropist fleets mired down in a hopeless on-going struggle to subdue the captured NoCoZo worlds, the Standardisation side (now mostly Metasoft, with their allies the Sagittarius Sphere and the Bourgatov Alliance gone and the MPA hiding behind safe frontiers) and fleets breathing space.

Some problem was also caused by a few of the MPA autowars. Even the ones under good control, tended to on occasion attack some independent habitats that they perceived as having a high risk factor, or a probability of allying themselves with the Revisionists. Other autowars (possibly as an effect of attacks by Revisionist ai viruses) had gone rogue, or decide to set up their own clades.

Eventually it is then nothing but relativistic fleets looking for enemy fleets, trying to subdue the local populace, a situation that continued for some five hundred years, more again in the outer sphere.


Case Study - Uoagranyu

An example of the chaos that resulted at this time can be given by the unfortunate small regional power of Uoagranyu which was nuked, conquered, and enslaved by both sides in the war in a see-saw campaign in which over 70% of its 300 million inhabitants were slaughtered. When the alliances broke down, things got even worse, as relativistic fleets stuck in the outer solar system for lack of resources made continuous raids on each other and the devastated planet. The leader of the planet, Tanek Jos, rallied his people, renounced all previous allegiances, declared neutrality, and managed to build up a marginal defensive fleet from the wreckage of the half-dozen various armies that had been left rotting on his planet. Still the enemy fleets jockeyed among themselves for possession of the planet. Suddenly, one of the many autowar squadrons fighting over the system declared itself sentient and aligned itself with the independent "Uoagranyu Free System"--and this squadron turned on its former masters, then each other enemy in turn, driving them out of the system. Many analysts believe that this particular case of a 'rogue' autowar fleet was not caused by mental evolution, but instead the robotic ships were manipulated by Uoagranyu hackers desperate to free their planet from the chaos. In the aftermath of the war Tanek Jos' UFS became a regional power unaligned with any major empires, protected by its 'allied' squadron of powerful automated warships.


Version War Culture

While many worlds were totally untouched, most systems spent a sizeable fraction of their GNP on defensive measures. The whole era gave rise to what has later been called the "Version Mentality", the awareness that normality may at any point be shattered by total disaster.

Relativist courier ships had a renaissance, often being the only source of information on what was occurring elsewhere even in the same alliance. This era saw the Relativist culture go from an obscure atavism on the outskirts of galactic economy to a highly valued, rich and admired group. Many new members joined the relativists or founded their own relativist crews in the hope of protecting their homes, survival or for profit.

Although this period is often referred to as the great Interstellar Dark Age, such judgement is incorrect. Even as the War raged at its most fiercest, systems still prospered. This was admittedly a time of great uncertainty - at any moment a relativist fleet might come roaring out of interstellar space to wreak total annihilation over everyone - and apocalyptic literature, theatre, virches and interactives, were very popular. Most of this material was of very poor quality, but Ferrica Kionora's Miracle Ship still remains one of the greatest works of fiction ever composed. And for most, despite the hardships caused by loss of stargate commerce, life went on as usual anyway with its small joys and sorrows. Whole generations could pass before there were any signs of the war. The dark age was largely in the large scale situation, where the breakdown of interstellar economy, communications and cooperation forced many societies back to a mere First Federation interplanetary level.



The Peace-Making Process

By 4650 the Inner Sphere powers, exhausted by the drawn out conflict and resulting stalemate of the Version War, their economies near collapse with the loss of trade due to the destruction of the wormhole nexus, began to think about ending the war. All of the main protagonists realised the war was not only unwinable but even impossible to settle on their own. The NoCoZo and Metasoft empires were both losing more and more territory to the Revisionist relativist fleets, the Solarian and Negentropist forces were becoming increasingly overextended and bogged down in trying to keep control over captured worlds, MPA and Negentropist worlds were being laid waste by warring autowars. The war-ravaged great powers were facing increasing biont and AI-organised protests at home as well as heavy losses abroad, and what is more a general resentment among the less educated and more disenfranchised bionts was growing; the feeling, fanned by anthropist EM-transmitted documents, that this was the "archailect war" and that bionts were nothing but expendable puppets.

It was clear that little more could be accomplished by prolonging the war. The main problem would be how to set up the peace deal.

Here the Sophics, with some help from Keter and the Communion proved invaluable. The Sophics and Communion were the ones most interested in ending the war. They were relatively strong compared to the other powers by now, but had no desire to see this uncertain state of affairs continue any longer. Through their still fairly intact wormholes envoys were sent to the different empires, setting up a basic diplomatic infrastructure. Through a long time a long series of bootstrap ceasefires were constructed, beginning with the Bardwell Treaty of 4653 and the famous Tilia-Zwicky Accords the following year, including hostage exchanges (which later came to evolve into the ComEmp node systems) and the spread of ceasefire codes. This was by far not enough to stop the war directly as relativistic fleet still sped through space towards their targets, but it at least begun the process of peace.


Aftermath

The biggest losers of the war were the isolated worlds in the middle regions and outer volumes, that continued to be attacked by, or found their solar systems the battleground between, rogue commanders, relativistic fleets and autowars for centuries to follow the formal conclusion of hostilities.

Other losers included, NoCoZo, the Dominion and Cygexpa, all of whom lost large tracts of worlds either through the initial wormhole destruction chain reaction or the resulting relativist battles. Even more unfortunate were those houses and clades that were totally destroyed. The overall effect was a massive fractioning of interstellar politics, the emergence of a myriad heresies of the major AI religions due to isolation and the weakening of the old Houses and empires.

The Dominion ended up a rather smaller superpower, having lost a number of important core systems like Mithras, and also suffered major losses in the outer volumes. Having a highly centralised wormhole nexus, they they lost more links than the other powers, and had to spend a great deal of energy rebuilding. The problem was compounded with having to deal with provincial worlds that when they were reached by now regarded themselves as independent and in no need of rejoining the Dominion. Most painful of all was the loss of a number of former prefectures, especially the huge Perseus Province. To this day the loss of the Perseus Rift that cause it a lot of grief.

Cygexba suffered because, although their clients are cladised and can survive well (like the Danyello M'lund Cluster) the Cygexba Leadership itself was very centralist. A number of important clients to other groups or independence in the war, and, like the Solarians, they never recovered their former status.

Winners included well cladised empires capable of strong autonomous decentralised existence - specifically Metasoft. Metasoft entered the war at a late date, and hence only suffered minor casualties. Moreover, its universal standard gave them a borg-like connection; even a single vec has a self-sufficiency that allows em to rebuild.

Winners included the Sophics and the Communion, who gained kudos for their peace making efforts and, more importantly got to institute some of their ideology in the new ComEmp protocols. Another surprising winner were the anthropists, some of whom - especially the New Ludd Empire and the Church of Human Primacy, gained greatly from biont regimes dissatisfied with Archailect and ai governance

The Negentropists were in an ambiguous position. They suffered far more casualties per head of population than any other empire. They had also lost a number of worlds (although not as much as the Dominion). But at the same time they gained both in their old core and through absorption of many conquered NoCoZo systems. Unfortunately the conquered NoCoZo worlds, which became colloquially and semi-humorously known as the NoCoNegs, were to cause a lot of discomfort to the Negentropist Alliance by their constant harping for more freedom. In the end the Negentropist regional administrations allowed them sweeping liberalisations and generous trade tariffs. Although nominally a part of the Alliance they cannot be relied upon in sensitive situations, and in recent centuries have become more of a semi-autonomous empire of their own. The same happened a few centuries later with many of the old Sagittarius Sphere systems, none of which had taken kindly to the centralised rules the Negentropists were in the habit of handing down.

The Commonwealth of Empires came about as a direct result of the Version War aftermath. It was not a union of a few big powers like the Second Federation, but rather an amalgamation of a large number of smaller powers. This also means that Solarian and Negentropist fears are realised, Metasoft and NoCoZo are the new superpowers. However they are economic superpowers first and foremost - concerned with markets for their products.

The Version War not only an end to the Second Federation Ontology and the possibility of ever having a single unified ontology standard that everyone can agree on. Despite efforts over the millennia by sincere hyperturings and subtoposophic sapients to form a benign centralised galactic government, these attempts inevitably fail, as such governments are pulled apart by internal differences. Since the Version War the opinion became more entrenched that the galactic noosphere is just too diverse to be united under a single noetic and a single memetic. But that doesn't stop idealists from trying (in the interests of greater trade and info-networking).

The nature of the war made the consequences somewhat inconsistent: some worlds experienced centuries of devastation and barbarism, others business as usual, still others business as usual plus moments of total terror causing major cultural changes, others suffered conquest and occupation - or just total isolation from the rest of the universe. So the reactions were strongly mixed. Some cultures might have wondered what all the fuss was about, others became anthropists and some wanted to continue the war long after its conclusion. One reason for the ComEmp was that the empires knew they had to show some cohesion and really demonstrate they had ended the war - even if it would not hold together for long, it was still a good way of restoring galactic society.

A very large effect following the war was widespread disillusionment among normal sapients and even many powers with the archailects and their lackeys. Whilst many sapients - especially those from the heavily memed imperial centers, were quite happy to continue as if nothing had happened (such was their trust in and loyalty to the AI Gods, and also the depth of their conditioning), for many non-aligned polities, phyles, and individuals the situation was somewhat different. A few worlds and polities actually changed collective allegiance, going over to the neutrals, and in fact many of the neutrals saw this has a wonderful opportunity and did not fail to engage in [post-war subversion. This disgust with the big AI Gods became part of the post-war millennium, a driving force behind much of the era of fragmentation. Even if the war had been fought for the best and noblest reasons possible, when confronted with carnage people tend to remember the carnage rather than the ideals. At the same time the empires are good at retaining power, because they are cultures in themselves.


The Effect on the Inner Sphere

The defections and disillusionment were often most marked in the core Inner Sphere (generally c. 100 ly from Sol). In this area all the cultures constantly meet and interact, most worlds are cosmopolitan and deeply tied by history, trade and transports to the others. Outside the Inner Sphere most worlds clearly belong to one empire or another, and mainly interact with the other imperial worlds. Hence the Inner Sphere is the true cultural melting pot, which sends out waves of new ideas and fashions outwards. The various empires try to handle these, and can likely shape them across the inner regions but not in the Inner Sphere - there are too many other influences there too!

The fact that many sapients were disillusioned by the archailect empires' involvement in the war led to a huge renaissance for the inner sphere. This region was hit the worst by the war, and at the same time is one of the least controlled. During the following centuries it became far more independent than it had been prior to the war, almost breaking free from the empires ideologically. On the purely imperial worlds outside the archai-loyalist hyperturings were able to manage the memes more or less, and they remain relatively loyal. But the movement of the Inner Sphere old worlds to greater autonomy became an important basis for the ComEmp and its continued history. Although the Inner Sphere has never been an empire of its own, and remained influenced by the archailects, they largely tend to cancel each other out as far as many of the region's sapients and powers are concerned. While much of the global politics is turning outwards towards the outer regions, the inner sphere is instead withdrawing inwards from the empires, setting up its own culture.




Post Version joke: It is said that after the war a few scholars went back and compared the programming languages that the conflict was fought over. What they found was that the source codes were identical except for a small tag at the very beginning and end of each that specified what color it would appear when displayed on a standard interface.




References

Admiral Tav Aani (Retd, Imperial Space Force, Fleet Ammon-Ra), The Version War - the Untold Story, (5550), Solaris Press, Abydos (Memory Archive Node D)

Peer Kess Grath, A question of Protocols - The Negentropy Alliance and the Version War, 7464, Kelkan Media, Ken Ferjik

Academician Tilga5 Halliday, Ally Betrayed - the true story of the Purcell and Yo Kriemhild attacks, 10352, Inabis, Alexandria III

Partrycia Kanab3, Hrado's Rangers: a study in infamy, 6740, Bollinder Omnimedia, Kolmogorof Habitats

Ferrica Kionora Miracle Ship, 4743, reproduced under licence by Simstar Virchtainments, Nudisneyworld (Orbital Bands B3)

Marus Tan Polynyas, Chance, Free Will, and Civilisation - a new interpretation of Archailect sovereignty, 8833, Free Eschatology Press, Chibootis L4-Tipler

Jarri Fe Polyzoe, Death from the 'Gates - Danab-Gantor Stargate Disaster, 9588, Great Disasters in History Series, Neuwell Orbital Knowledgebanks

Section 8 (Eds), The Version War (43rd Edition), 10254, Institute of Interstellar Warfare and Atrocity, Memling II

Ltd Col. Carrs Sull'van, Attackships and Fortifications of the Version War, 9865, Millicent MatrixBooks, Waycross Demopolis

 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg, M. Alan Kazlev, Peter Kisner, Aaron Hamilton

Initially published on 03 July 2000.