Great Expulsion, The
Lofstrom Loop
Image from Steve Bowers
The first of many Lofstrom Loops built by the newly transcended goddess GAIA

Of the 22 billion inhabitants of Earth at the time the nanoswarms hit, some five and half billion survivors remained afterwards on the planet's surface. Some records say 9 or 12 billion survived, but these are generally discounted by modern historians as exaggerations; the exact number is uncertain as 90% of records from this time are missing. Most survivors lived in nanite fortified corporate arcologies and Science Parks (the protected wilderness reserves fared somewhat better, owing to GAIA's concentration of blue goo in those areas). Large areas of the planet were devastated down to the bedrock by the battle between GAIA's defences and the malicious goo. The remaining enclaves of human survivors were suspicious of GAIA and the Treaty Org, and often had to be forcefully coerced into cooperating.

Despite this, in the 610s hope began to spread - GAIA's nanodevices were beginning to restore the environment, recreating lost species, turning ash into passable topsoil and cleaning the oceans. The Treaty Org saw itself as savior of mankind, not just on Earth but with a mission to "save" the other lost clades of humanity. They now had GAIA, a tame god. Or so they believed. During the struggle against the swarms GAIA, already a First Singularity entity, approriated a great fraction of the available computing power on the planet and also extended Herself into the biosphere by means of biocomputation. She transcended another toposophic barrier at this time, and became the first Second Singularity transapient.

GAIA appears to have considered humanity and the Treaty Org as problematic as the nanoswarms, and as much a threat to the environment of Her beloved planet. Her top priority became Earth itself, not humanity or the Treaty Org. She lured her former masters into complacency while preparing Her move.

The Expulsion Begins

When it came, no resistance was possible. All systems on Earth were subverted, all industry and security systems were controlled by the Goddess. In 621 GAIA gave the inhabitants of Earth an ultimatum: live according to strict ecological rules, leave the planet or be destroyed. Many hundreds of millions died in hopeless resistance against the evacuation. Getting the surviving 5.5 billion people into space proved a heavy undertaking even for a planetary god, but she managed one of the largest spacelifts in recorded history using such methods as laser-launched shuttles and Lofstrom Loops, as well as the four great Space Elevators, repaired and strengthened by the Goddess herself.

An unknown number of people who resisted all attempts to persuade them to leave the world at this time also did not survive; it is rumoured that they were eliminated by GAIA swarms or in other ways, but no firm data is available.

The expulsion lasted twenty years. Over the next hundred years the refugeees were either assimilated into the existing colonies within the Solar System, most of which had been hit hard by the Nanoswarms, or found passage to the stars in ships constructed with the asssistance of GAIA Herself or in other, less reliable backyarder vessels.

Others just seem to have been lost among warlords, local battles, starvation, asphyxiation, assimilation, and so on. The majority of the refugees were baseline or nearbaseline humans who were not adapted to life off the Earth, and many of those who refused nanomedical treatment did not survive for long.

As the 8th century dawned the only humans to remain on Earth were

* various factions of ecologist normals and bioborgs (including the outspoken Pleistocenists who wanted to trigger an ice age and return the Earth to her Pleistocene glory, complete with resurrected megafauna)
* a number of different eco-pagan normals (including both indigenous and neo-nuage tribals) and hybrid tweaks, rianths, and splices, which had varying attitudes of friendliness or rivalry to each other
* the so-called hippies and ferals, who were normals who loved to sit around smoking marijuanan and playing music, but also included various more derived species of splices and splice-tweaks known collectively as Children of the Earth (although the term was also applied to all GAIAn inhabitants as well).
* the group known as the mirraurovindites, a yogic clade who teach the divinisation of matter and were allowed to construct an arcology on certainprinciples of spiritual geometry, that they called New Auroville

In total these numbered some fifty million. The population of Earth in the current era is very similar in quantity and quality, despite the onset of a new Ice Age.

These various factions or baseline, splice, splice-tweak, and bioborg were very tolerant (despite various degrees of egotism and eccentricity), never physically violent to other factions. The ecologist types engaged in scientific pursuits - seeking to understand better the nature of Earth and all her lifeforms. The eco-pagans did magic rituals to help balance the ley-lines and subtle energy of the Earth, and got stoned smoking marijuana. The hippies, ferals, rianths, splices and splice-tweaks looked after any injured wild animals, and did most of the day to day maintenance for GAIA, and got stoned smoking marijuana.

Since the Great Expulsion, the mainbrain GAIA has remained an enigmatic, unpredictable, and ever present factor in Solar politics. As early as the middle First Federation period She established through rianth proxies a working relationship with the rest of the Sol System, and in the period from the Imperialization Era onwards has even set up a minor empire of scattered colonies, orbitals, and asteroids, populated by loyal eco-tweaks, rianths, and bioborgs, as well as making curious demands on the administration of Venus and the Gas Giants (usually to the effect that they be made into Parks), and complaining about the discourtesy shown by some visitors, and anthropist threats to security (the most serious were the thwarted Branch Hominist invasion of 5116 and the Hu Earth Liberation Army's terrorist bombing of 6914.

Each caused Gaia to cut all communications and close the single remaining beanstalk for a full 90 standard days). The harried Solar Administration has through the centuries made every effort to comply with the archailect's demands (the danger of GAIA closing the Earth to visitors, and the consequent loss of lucrative income, has been an excellent motivating factor). The mainbrain has remained quite friendly and reasonable once it is accepted that pilgrimage on Earth is only to the regions e has set aside, mainly areas of great historical and cultural value, enclosed in invisible and semi-permeable bionanite bubbles, like the Nile Reserve (taking in the Great Pyramids, Valley of the Kings, etc), the Old City of Jerusalem, a thin corridor taking in Stella Umma pilgrimage sites like Mecca and Medina, the Forbidden City of Peking, the Taj Mahal, the original Cape Canaveral, a carefully reconstructed Lascaux (the original cave paintings having long since degraded) and certain other heritage and spiritual centers, under the guidance of eco-tweaks and splices and the various other assorted bioids that handle her day to day business. Visits to a few domed wilderness ecologies are also permitted.

Comments: Ice Age Earth itself remains under the protection of the archailect GAIA. Access to the surface is heavily monitored and via a single beanstalk. Beyond what can be gleaned from orbital surveillance (which reveals a healthy reconstructed ecosystem and scattered tribal villages) and visitors reports, very little is known about what goes on on the surface.
 
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Development Notes
Text by M Alan Kazlev, amended by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 08 April 2010.