Enigma Four

Transapient hive mind of unknown origin

Enigma Four
Image from Steve Bowers
A Science Station orbiting the enigmatic world of Enigma Four during the early period, when the Helix Nebula was at its brightest

Star: nr354-4536-566A
Type: K5v
Luminosity: 0.7 Sol
Companion: Mv red dwarf star 2AU distant
Distance from Sol: 658 ly, near the Helix Nebula


Enigma Four was discovered by a scout ship from a minor Deeper Covenant clade in 3346. Their mission was to explore the possibility of setting up a beamrider relay station in this hitherto overlooked system. Upon arrival they discovered to their surprise that it was inhabited by a previously unknown intelligence.

The fourth planet from the star was an airless, but quite mineral rich, rock some 8200 km across. It therefore came somewhat as a shock when they detected electromagnetic activity equivalent to a major civilization originating from it. Further examinations revealed that 67.2% of the planet had been converted into computronium, with nano- goo of unknown design working on the rest.

An attempt to contact the entity\entities was met with success, but unfortunately the reply was impossible to understand for the pre- singularity crew. One of them dubbed their discovery Enigma Four. 'Four' since the planet was the fourth from the star, and 'Enigma' for obvious reasons.

The message was successfully decoded after the scout returned to its home system. The entity identified emself as 'the Core', welcomed them to the system and expressed hope for peaceful relations. Analysis revealed that the Core was a hive mind (78.9% probability). This was later confirmed.

A new ship containing a SI:1 AI was sent to the Enigma system, who obtained permission to build a beamrider relay. As a matter of fact the Core indicated that they could do whatever they wanted with the rest of the system, as long as they left Enigma Four alone.

The relay was completed in 3580, and a research outpost was established a few years later to observe the Core. Among the discoveries made was how the hive mind avoided going static. The Core contained several virtual ecologies where alifes underwent forced autoevolution. This constantly enriched and diversified the hive.

The Enigma Four research station has remained active from that date until the Current Era; during this time the nearby Helix Nebula has brightened, expanded, and finally faded away to invisibility. In 9875, however, the research outpost made its most alarming discovery. Based upon numerous SI:1 simulations it became clear that due to the rapidly increasing complexity of the Core, it would either suffer a Denebola Collapse or transcend sometime by the 10600s. This is also the date when the Core is expected to complete the conversion of the planet into computronium.

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Development Notes
Text by Espen Antonsen
Graphics by Steve Bowers, planetary models by John M Dollan
Initially published on 20 November 2003.