World with a culture of song and flight

Image from Steve Bowers
The single continent on Calyx is shaped roughly like a flower, and gives this world its name
Star JD 2221098
Stellar type Kv4
Luminosity 0.41 x Sol
Distance from Sol 985 ly
Planet Calyx
Planetary type PelaGelidian Gaian
semimajor axis 0.65 AU
orbital period 0.602 standard years

A cold, wet PelaGelidian world in Lyra, Calyx was colonised in 4285 by AmBlla AP, a minor exploration franchise associated with the Cygnus Expansion Association. AmBlla were initially based at JD 1774873, a major wormhole node fourteen light years away. Calyx was lifeless, covered in icy oceans with a single continent shaped like a flower near the south pole. The Chief Executive of the colony was a S:1 transapient known as Parzival; e recognised the potential of this world, which could be terraformed relatively easily. Using the technology available at that time this could be achieved on a timescale of less than five hundred standard years. While this process was underway, e ordered the construction of numerous large surface habitats with controlled environments inside, to house the large population e hoped to attract to this world.

The Conic Arcologies

These habitats, known as ‘Conics’, were all built to the same general layout. Accommodation for the habitat’s population lined the walls of a large, equilateral cone, with apartments becoming increasingly smaller towards the apex. Windows looked outwards onto the cold, grey, anoxic skies of the icy landscape of this world, and balconies faced inwards onto the enclosed parkland and agora kilometres below. The bustling marketplace/mall was the most important social centre for each of these structures, and fast elevators ferried the population from their conical accommodation to the mall below.

Musical entertainment was very important in the culture of the Conic arcologies; song festivals, and open-air operas were commonplace, and many performers used augmentation to improve their range and tonal qualities. Many performers were genetically and/or prosthetically modified and were capable of producing the sounds of almost any musical instrument and many other tones beside. A chorus of such singers could sound like an orchestra or bank of synthesisers, or like a forest full of songbirds, or a school of whales, as well as retaining the normal human vocal range.

The Economy under Parzival

While Parzival was in charge, the carefully planned market system thrived, with many independent corporations supplying goods and synthetic foodstuffs to the consumers of the conical habitats. In common with many Cygexpa worlds Calyx was run as a commercial venture at that time, and one of the goals of the transapient Chief Executive was to supply a large and content population of consumers with consumable goods as efficiently as possible. Many of these consumers were employed by AmBlla AP in the task of terraformation, and were followers of the corporate religions popular at that time. Others found employment with the independent suppliers that used the resources of this system in various ways to supply goods for the market. But the transapient Parzival kept a close rein on all transactions on this world, subtly managing the economy so that growth was constant and smooth.
Parzival was known to be fond of modosophonts in general, and humans in particular, but e seemed less enthusiastic about the company of other transapients, and during the period of his management few visiting transaps or archai visited this world. There was no tradition of ascension on this world either, probably due to subtle memetic engineering by the Chief Executive, although a sizable population of superbrights did exist.

Calyx was too far from the Inner Sphere to be affected directly by the Version War, although many citizens went to fight as mercenaries against the Revisionists. A partial copy of Parzival went too, acting as the pilot/captain of a warship which saw some action near the MPA border. When this copy returned and merged with the alpha copy, the memories of combat and destruction proved traumatic for the Chief Executive. Parzival appears to have embarked on a process of introspection and self examination in which e explored various personal options - transcension being one such option. In due course e transcended to the Second Singularity, departing the JD 2221098 system in the warship for the Periphery in 4673. This left the world of Calyx without any transapient oversight at that time.

State Capitalism

Used to a centrally-managed economy, the modosophonts of Calyx found themselves in full charge of their own financial system for the first time. Some segments of society were consumed by feelings of anger and abandonment, others felt fear, while some revelled in a sense of newfound freedom from transapient rule. Because of Parzival’s previous memetic manipulation, the citizens of Calyx were not enthusiastic about ascension themselves, so no new transapients emerged to take over the executive position. Instead the modosophonts of this world decided to rule things without transapient assistance. A few were not happy with this decision, and left via relativistic ferry for the wormhole link fourteen light years distant.

The terraformation company AmBlla AP (now run locally by modosophonts) was busy with the ongoing task of oxygenation, planting tailored trees in the barren landscape and cultivating phytoplankton in the great single ocean. However many of the foodstuff manufactories had been heavily subsidised by the departed transapient, and they were beginning to lose their market share to food grown by surface agriculture as the world slowly became more habitable. Several manufactory corporations went bankrupt, as did some of the loan companies associated with them. Other manufactory companies refused to relinquish resources needed for terraformation, hoping to prolong the dependence of the population on their vat-grown foodstuffs. The economy on Calyx went into recession for the first time in its history. In an attempt avoid financial collapse, the Council of Conics (formerly a body with little more than honorary duties) formed a planet-wide Recovery Committee, which took control of some of the failing financial institutions, and began to regulate and control the economy directly.

AmBlla AP was the main employer on Calyx, and worked very closely with the Recovery Committee to restabilise the economy. But even AmBlla had an uncertain future, since the process of terraformation was nearly complete, and the company would need to diversify in order to remain in business. The Recovery Committee recognised this, and embarked on a series of initiatives intended to smooth the transition to an economy suitable for a fully habitable planet. They invited applications from the private companies of this system for a wide range of specialised contracts, from landscaping and agricultural development to franchised development of the new open air cities. Each successful applicant company would be responsible for the delivery of the services required, while remaining under the overall control of the Recovery Committee.

The Guardian of the Recovery, at first an elected post, became a hereditary post when the superbright Kreyasha Ble succeeded her mother in 4801. Although the stated aim of the Committee was to return the economy to a stable state, at which time it could become a fully free market, the system of patronage and cronyism that developed on Calyx meant that the market remained very much under the control of the Guardian and her advisors, who remained firmly set against transapient intervention for nearly a thousand years. Although in theory a free market operated outside the tendered contacts controlled by the State, those companies that were not awarded contracts were generally feeble and unsuccessful. However the great expansion of economical activity that came when the surface was finally opened for general habitation meant that a reasonably large number of independent businesses could thrive, even without state endorsement. Often these successful independents gained franchises at the next round of tendering, despite the efforts of existing favoured companies to prevent this.

In 5620 a new Guardian of the Recovery, Kreyasha Npa, came to the throne. Realising the complexity of the economic problems that faced her world, she enlisted the assistance of several hyperturing Aivisers provided by Cygexpa, who recommended that the State should encourage individuals in the government and tendered companies to ascend to transapient status. When the first home-grown transapients arrived on the scene the culture on this world was completely transformed, so much so that the state-capitalist system evaporated almost overnight, to be replaced by a mesh of complex interactions that few modosophonts could understand. Kreyasha Npa herself attempted to ascend in 5682, but this attempt was a failure, and after that time the post of Guardian became an irrelevant anachronism.


The new transapient-led culture of Calyx forged many ties with the rest of the Cygexpa volume, particularly through a new wormhole link to HD177487, which had many long-distance connections. The corporate empire ruled by the archailect Lohengrin that controlled much of this region influenced the culture of Calyx and the other worlds and habitats in this system profoundly. For this reason the dissolution of the inner Cygexpa empire in 7247 affected this world to a very great extent, and most of the transapient population left for the outer volumes during the next two centuries. Many of the modosophonts left as well, leaving many of the surface cities and the old Conical arcologies largely empty.

Among those that chose to stay were many of the augmented singer caste, who had relished the move to the great outdoors and had introduced many species of bird to the planet, including neogens and provolved species renowned for their singing. In the suddenly empty lands of the single Calyx continent, the singer caste built tall cotes and eyries for their bird companions, and many further augmented themselves to be capable of flight.

Soon the deserted Conic arcologies were covered in smaller structures like barnacles, each furnished with open windows to admit the flying songpeople and their avian companions. The skies of Calyx are today full of music and birdsong, and individuals from several flying clades have been drawn to this world, from the venerable African Grey provolve and the Huginn and Muninn corvids, to the human-derived Virds and Vats from Mazukata's Holiday. Many of these new arrivals have adopted vocal augmentation themselves in order to join in with the symphony of music.

Calyx Surface
Image from Steve Bowers
The eyries of many flying clades can be found attached to the outside of the old Conic arcologies

Musical language

Many of the provolved bird species had already developed their own song-based languages before coming to Calyx, and the singer caste soon learnt many of these languages. Provolved songbirds are considerably larger than their baseline equivalents, in order to accommodate the larger cortex necessary for self-conscious thought and language. Despite this they are often quite simple, poetic souls, content to use the languages they have developed for mating and territorial purposes. The human derived flying singers of Calyx, on the other hand, have developed the musical languages of the birds, and other musical languages such as Solresol, into complex and nuanced methods of communication which can encompass meaning on many levels simultaneously. Some of these musical languages have become popular in other parts of the Terragen Sphere, especially among superior-level clades and low transapients.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers, with suggestions by Michael Zimmet

Initially published on 21 February 2012.