Beta Virginis IV, former capital of the Virginis Combine (originally New America)

Pacifica with clouds
Image from Steve Bowers

Pacifica (Beta Virginis IV, formerly New America)

SystemBeta Virginis
PlanetBeta Virginis IV
NamePacifica (formerly New America)
Planet Typeoriginally Ice-covered Rockball - terraformed to Pelagic Gaian
Orbit Semimajor axis2.39 AU
Diameter9,294 kilometres
Density1.3 times Earth
Gravity0.93 g
Year: 2.623 Earth years or 919 days.
Axial Tilt: 10 degrees

Pacifica Seascape
Image from Anders Sandberg
Floatcit above the ocean of Pacifica

Pacifica (Beta Virginis IV, formerly New America)

GeographyAlmost 96% of the surface is sea, with the single small glaciated continent Revere at the North Pole (Aspen is the only city on Revere, a major resort boasting maglev rails to many great ski-, snowboard- and snowsurf-slopes as well as other forms of recreation).

The planet is fairly geologically active, and cyclones are a common problem in the subtropical regions; during the hurricane season it is not unusual with semi-permanent storms that make habitation in the zone hard. Secondary storms pass up through the temperate areas.
AIAI overseer:
surface: Cetan ISO (Great Whale);
orbital: Technorat AI/IA network

AI's ethos:
Cetan ISO: Utopic, interventionist when required, but enigmatic to ordinary sapients
Technoratic AI/IA: pro-utopian benign laissez faire administration, interventionist only in cases of sentient rights violations or local ecological disturbances
surface: Pacifica Commonwealth
orbital: Technorat Pacifica, also several autonomous (non-technorat) and provolve orbitals

Pacifica Commonwealth: stylised ocean-wave with Great Whale ISO leaping
Technorat Pacifica: Beta Virginis Technorat Logo around stylised ocean planet
Current AffiliationUtopia Sphere
Colonized868 a.t.
TimekeepingThe day is 25 hours 23 minutes long. This is solved by an extra hour on the clock and 23
Psyche, Art, CultureMetapsychology: (surface, generally) creative, self-expressive,

Metaethics: (surface, generally) utopian, pragmatic, hedonistic,

Religion and Ideology:
no single ideology, inhabitants may be Pantheist, Cosmist, Universalist (Theist), Rationalist, Cetist (worship of Great Whale ISO), Animist, Hwsiian, Solarist, Ecologocentrist, Technoratist, Utopic, Ecosocialist, Libertarian, or other memeticities

Pacifican (Anglish language family, many dialects), Douh, Hwsii, and Betareaese are the most common tongues planetside. In the orbitals Technoratic, Metasoft Standard, and Solarian are also widely spoken.

Most of Pacifica is rural. People live in small communities on different islands, travelling between them with boat or sub. They commute to the main islands or use telecommuting (which is very common). The only real urban areas are Liberty and the technorat orbitals.

Culture Aesthetics:
The differences between the different clades are noticeable. The strongly retro neo-corporates are comparatively conservative and have not changed style much since the early days, still preferring rugged 'frontier' clothing (like the few remaining Pioneers of the south seas) or conservative business suits. The Mainstream has shifted over time, but for the last decades it has gravitated towards frosted clothes: transparent plastic clothing with a diffracting frosting. Floating California tends towards loose, colourful and holographic clothing. The technorats have adapted functional, somewhat drab clothing as the 'serious' style, but normally wear anything they like - they tend towards the functional but radical.

Almost everybody owns some kind of boat or submarine. Many people live on house-boats more than on land, even if having a villa somewhere is common.

Current Fashions:
Currently suncoloring is in again among almost everybody: by eating special chemical supplements and exposing the skin to sunlight, the skin can be coloured in muted pastel hues. By covering it with patches and taking several supplements complex patterns can be created.

Something that has caught the interest mainly of the Mainstream and technorats is the development of 'acoustical environments' or sound-holo: extremely high resolution sound artworks, tuned to various brain rhythms, associations and musical styles. Inside the environment sounds appear in different places, suggesting shapes and movements. Together with synesthetia training this has turned into a popular form of entertainment or art.
ImmigrationImmigration: currently 0.08 million per tenyear

Emigration: currently 0.3 million per tenyear
Government and AdministrationGovernment Type Cyberdemocracy.

Administrative divisions: Bioregional Districts

National holidays: Splashdown Day, Magellan Day, Big Surf Day, Cetaniso Celebrations (one for each Act by the Great Whale), Utopia Festival, and many others

Constitution: Pacifica Declaration

Legal system: standard Beta Arae law applies, with some local modifications
Foreign Policy: Strong Trade and Venture Capitalist links with Utopia Sphere, Solar Dominion, and other friendly empires and worlds
Economics, Local InfrastructureEconomy: mildly ecosocialist to mildly ecocapitalist autotopia

Currency: Pacifica Dollar

Major Industries: Ecosculpture, Tourism, Marine Sports, Biotech, Aquascaping, High Resolution Acoustic Artworks

Angelnetting : Partial angelnetting in many orbitals and surface habitats; extensive utility fog for climate control

Major Orbitals: Nuyork, Armstrong, Hawaii
TravelMajor Spaceports: Hawaii Interplanetary Spaceport (regular flights to and from both Island Gate Wormhole and the rest of the system)

Hazard Rating : 0.1 to 1.5

Visa Restrictions : Visas are easy to get but it is necessary to specify duration of stay

Freedom of Movement : some human and provolve locals value their privacy; these areas are marked on your interactive display. Otherwise, no restrictions

Environmental Requirements : aquatic modifications required for underwater habitats

Sites of Interest:
The School of Schools is in some sense the centre of the Floating California. It is a regular meeting in the Salwowski Atoll of the floating and flying cities and schools. The entire atoll is filled with boats, greenzeps and temphomes. It is a mixture between a festival, a market, huge party and a political meeting, although the last component is weaker than the others. It is here the representatives to congress are elected, as well as deals for new vessels and travel plans made.

Armstrong University is the oldest surviving orbital university, with a long rich tradition dating all the way back to the middle Federation period. It is well renowned for its space engineering and project management degrees, although the centuries are long gone when it was a hotbed of technorat ideologues.

Pacifica Map
Image from Anders Sandberg
Pacifica Map


365 - Unnamed Solipsist AI probe launched towards Beta Virginis

541 - New World launched

815 - (approx) Solipsist AI probe reaches Beta Virginis

868 - New World arrives at Beta Virginis

878 - first colony established on the surface, small orbitals established

883 - original provisional administration replaced by system along Old Earth American lines, with two parties: Unionists and Federalists

950 - completion of first large orbital, NuYork Orbital

970 - technocrats began receiving faint broadbeam radio transmissions from Sol.

1056 - several technarch cells infiltrated and take over Elk River Orbital

1068 - following the Elk River fiasco, fully four-fifths of technorats habitats officially seceded

1125 - the NEHDP Radicals attack and destroy isolationist mining drone

1140 - hu-ai war; loss of New Europe

1156 - arrival of the Federation robot Survey Vessel Magellan

1170 - Technorat technology, science, and toposophics, begin developing dramatically through exchange with Federation databases

1200 - as a result of terraforming, the temperature rises and ice begins melting into a vast planet-girdling ocean

1250 - settlement of surface well under way

1267 - Technorats Elias E. Jordan and Irene Abott develop space-time structure theoretics that mimic the Abdela theory developed by the Federation AI research team on Galileo Orbital

1300 - Nova mediacorps powerful and influential

1316 - new clades - floaters and mariners, begin to emerge on New America

1358 - President Gertrud Jess attempts unsuccessfully to bring floaters and mariners into line.

1400 - mainstream Nuyork and Liberty administration increasingly irrelevant and powerless in the face of new equatorial clades

1415 - Monroe Cylinder, a huge mediacorp habitat, completed in polar orbit around the jovian planet Green.

1428 - in an effort to counter the Equatorials, mainstream gives NADs extraordinary powers, New America enters oppressive phase, but this only isolates the mainstream and their orbitals further, while failing to stem the Equatorials' advance

1541 - Equatorial clades capture Liberty, declare independence. NA orbital counterattack leads to the so-called Pacifica War; the NuyorkMainstream finally defeated by technorat ai intrusion programs and goo attacks. New America renamed Pacifica. Mainstream administration exiled to some small orbitals around the outer planets.

1590 - A number of Technorat habitats form the Virginan Combine

1620 - In alliance with the Amats, the Mainstream Pacifican administration industrialises once again, establishes PSA (Pacific Space Agency) as a joint venture with SecureSpace, with 51% local ownership.

1625 - Virginis Combine embarks on ambitious interstellar colonisation program

1640 - the Space Race - rivalry between PSA and the Combine

1712 - after several initial successful missions PSA amalgamates with the Combine

1748 - Combine amat farms seeded at Denebola

1752 - alien artifact discovered at Porrima

1816 - after some years of increasingly close links, M'Buto Confederacy (BD -9.3413) joins the Combine.

1824 - experimental Sun Mines established at the white dwarves Eggen-Greenstein and McCook & Sion

1827 - the wreck of the Fra Angelico discovered

1865 - establishment of the Virginis Combine Institute of Exoarcheology

1990 - Denebola Incident - renegade exploration management AI from TakiCorb uses nanoweaponry to capture the system 2217 - Pacifica begins making overtures to the Utopia Sphere ai clusters at Beta Arae

2344 - after Metasoft vec ships spread beyond human reach the biont management loses control of the Version Tree

2425 - Metasoft bionts establish a number of local corporations

2534 - first confirmed sightings of The Great Whale ISO

3931 - the diamondoid civilizations on the inner worlds spontaneously transcend. The Great Whale ISO generates a swarm of blue goo, the Gesture of Sheltering the Ocean, to prevent a wash of nanoreplicators from affecting Pacifica and the outer colonies.

7120 - second cycler network opened, connecting the system with many nearby red and brown dwarfs and several Utopia and NoCoZo worlds.


During the late Interplanetary / Nanotech period an ambitious project was initiated by the Look Outwards Combine, giving them 49% ownership over the Beta Virginis system in exchange for enough amat to take them there at 0.1 c. The New World was launched in 529, carrying 20,000 colonists in cryogenic suspension, and maintained by advanced robot systems that hopefully would ensure all systems functioned on the two century long voyage

The New World arrived at Beta Virginis in 868. The news of the Technocalypse and fall of civilisation back home was a shock, but only hardened their resolve to start a new world. The fourth planet, an Earth-sized venusian world, seemed to be terraformable as expected. What wasn't expected was that one the other inner worlds, all of which were also Venusian-type planets, were in the process of being claimed by AIs of uncertain origin, probably solipsist refugees from the SolSys centralist purge.

There was much discussion on what to do, and contact was finally established between the ship and mission ais and the locals. In contrast to original expectations, the local ai colonies were not overly hostile, although communication presented a difficulty because of the heterochronological difference in subjective time. As yet they claimed only a single planet, New Asia, which acquired the nickname Aiball; the term the isolationist ais gave for their world was a series of alphanumerics and geometric patterns that made little sense to ordinary bionts.

The three other inner worlds, New America, New Africa and New Europe were claimed by the colonists, but they discovered ai drones in the atmosphere and near planetary orbit of the latter two, and a stand-off developed; the colonists fearful of attacking the isolationist ai, and the isolationist ai seemingly uninterested in the newcomers.

Establishment of Government
Because of the local ai presence, only New America was at first available for Terraforming and colonisation. Later (in view of seeming disinterest of the isolationist ai) it was decided to terraform New Europe as well. The terraforming process was to take centuries, and in the meantime colonists set up a number of basic orbital habitats, using asteroidal materials. These were named after ancient Earth cities, ParRis Orbital, Tok Yo Orbital, Ellaye Orbital, and so on.

A government was instituted in the small ParRis Orbital (later to be moved to the large Nuyork Orbital when that was completed a century later). This was somewhat similar to the government of the old US, with a president, senate, house of representatives and Supreme Court. Instead of states, the different orbitals and surface colonies were given semi-autonomous powers. One additional office not found on Earth was Regional CEO, which was the office of the Look Outwards amat corporation. The office of Regional CEO had importance and clout equal to that of the executive and the judiciary. No laws could be passed, or important political decisions made, without the agreement of the colonial Look Outwards CEO.

The Population Differentiates
As the various settlements were built, both in space and in domed and hermetically sealed habitats on the surface of the various planets and moons (with the largest number in the orbitals around New America), the population began to differentiate. Basically there were five main groups

The Corporates or Look Outwards faction was by far the largest. All colonists were shareholders in any case, and many felt the company policy of gradual terraforming and colonization was the most reasonable option, especially since it had been carefully planned by expert systems and dedicated ai back in SolSys. Many decided to stay in orbitals and gradually migrate to the surface, while others moved to set up bases on several outer system moons.

One small but militant group were the Hawks, who pointed out that the presence of the local ai was an unexpected variable that had totally invalidated the careful SolSys planning. No real colonization was possible until the isolationist ai threat was resolved. They wanted to destroy the isolationist ai with jerry-rigged khaki goo and ai viruses. They were opposed in this by all other factions (apart from a few religious extremists) who had done threat assessment and combat simulations of various outcomes, and in every single case a human attack on the local ai was shown to be a disaster, not only for the attacking force, but for the entire colony

A larger but equally radical group were the pioneers, who wanted little to do with either the colony or the ISO ai. In association with their ai companions, they moved away as quickly as possible into the frontier regions, the belt and outer moons, the kuiper and oort bodies, while others settled on various small habitats in the allowed region on the surface.

Another group were the faithful, people with strong religious leanings. They were especially impressed by the fact that Beta Virginis was (as they believed) the only remaining outpost of mankind, the Solar System back home having been destroyed by God for its sinfulness. While the faithful were mixed up with the rest of the population, in time more and more tended to aggregate in the New Jerusalem Orbital. The orbital became primarily a home for Christian fundamentalism, and various local laws were passed that enforced strict rules of proper behaviour. Most strictly regulated or restricted the activities of ai. Advocates of other religions like Islam, Hinduism, Nuagism, and Buddhism established their own outposts, but never were as militant as the Christians

The last group were the technological elite, who had remained on the project out of personal convictions despite the political troubles. They kept out of politics, instead concentrating on practical matters such as terraforming, and other research. Like the pioneers they were pro-ai, and indeed they were interested in cyborgization, uploading, and other areas of hu-ai merger. In time they were called the technocrats, or the technorats. They also, unlike the other factions, were in favor of friendly relations and opening communication with the isolationist ai. While they lacked political finesse from the start, they held their own against other interests by their grip on the vital systems that the entire colony depended on. In addition, their ai cleverly manipulated the situation to ensure that the technorats had the most influence

Over the following decades the the Lower and Upper Houses of Government were dominated by two parties, the Unionists (originally the side that resisted the development of separate polities) and Federalists (pro-polities; later the more conservative party).

Isolationist Megastructures
While the human colonists were setting up around and on New America, New Europe, and the outer system moons, the ai civilization on New Asia continued to transform the planet, using vast amounts of hylonano to suck up the atmosphere, and building silicon, diamondoid, and metallic megastructures of unknown function, and activity began to increase on New Africa. Despite growing paranoia among some human factions, the ai probes did not interfere with the colonists, and indeed they withdrew from New Europe altogether.

A group of technorats set up observation posts from two General Systems Interplanetary Vessels, one in New Asia orbit and the other in New Africa Orbit. They renamed the two worlds Aiball Oh-one and Aiball One-oh, and the names stuck.

SolSys Transmissions
In 970 the technocrats began receiving faint broadbeam radio transmissions from Sol. It seemed that life hadn't been destroyed totally, and that a new society, the "Federation of Sophonts" was being built. A few technorats rejoiced in the name, and started speaking about the arrival of a technological renaissance. The fundamentalists denied this, citing biblical verses to show that they had been chosen by God as His new people, and that these transmissions were a ploy by Satan to trap them, in league with the satanic ai on the inner planets. The Pioneers thought that some communication with the Federation was a good idea, but felt independence should be retained.

The Technarchs
The coming of the Federation was not the only thing the local authorities and traditionalists had to worry about. Inspired by Federation culture and technology, a more radical fringe of the technorat clade developed. While most of the technorats were busy industrialising space and building ever more ambitious habitats, one group began to demand independence from the system as a whole. This group, the technarchs, sought not just to make each orbital but to make each habitat an independent political entity completely apart from the Nuyork administration, but to unite all the technorat orbitals in a sort of Orbital Free Zone. To them, nationalism was anathema to the "technarchy of space". In 1056 several technarch cells infiltrated and attempted to take over a newly built tourist showpiece habitat, the Elk River (named after its beautifully created biosphere). They proclaimed it a new "technarchic system" but were condemned as hijackers everywhere else, even by the technorats. The previously pro-technorat Amats, anxious about what sort of precedent this could set, supported the Mainstream administration. The president sent in a military strike force, who succeeded in breaking into the habitat and disabling the technarchs with only the loss of five lives (three technarchs and two marines, most of them killed when an improvised bomb detonated at the wrong moment). The action was the first use of an armed space assault ever and proved that the New America space navy was indeed able to handle real combat. The local media played up the whole affair, exaggerating it into an example of administration heavy-handedness and totalitarianism. After the Elk River disaster the remaining technarchs split. The moderates largely became a political movement, and others left more the outer moons and planets, while some true radicals became the feared Vacuum Brigade, a space based terrorist group that committed over 20 bombings over the next few decades until finally being defeated in 1099.

Of greater impact was the fact that after Elk River most of the technorats, even those previously neutral, became increasingly hostile to the Nuyork administration, seeing it as an oppressive nationalist-religious regime, and declared unilateral independence. By 1068 fully four-fifths of the technorats had officially seceded. And whilst they never actually formed a single technarch-style orbital league, each habitat was a local free zone, with strong ties to other habitats and to the Federation, which they officially joined.

Hu-Ai war and the loss of New Europe
The so called Hu -Ai war was too one-sided to be called a war. A radical faction - the New Earth Human Defence Party, had become increasingly powerful, especially on New Europe, playing on aiphobia and possible foreign (Federation) ownership. The Corporates strongly opposed what was going on, but they had become increasingly marginalised on New Europe, and lacked the authority they had in New America. Then in 1125 the NEHDP Radicals on New Europe (which had been named New Earth) attacked and destroyed an ai mining drone ship that had landed on an asteroid they had laid claim to. The feared retaliation never came, and the humans, especially the hawkish and nationalist factions of most worlds in the system, were able to glean something of the isolationists technology form the wreckage, although much of it remained obscure. After some years they thought they had found a weakness in the software that they could exploit. On New Europe / New Earth Technorat objections were branded as collaboration with the enemy, and local technorats were persecuted or imprisoned; many fled.

The exact details of what happened next remains obscure even today, since many records were lost following the war. But cliological reconstructions reveal that the radicals managed to upload a (for their technology) very sophisticated and effective trojan onto asteroid mining drone that belonged to Aiball One-oh. The trojan was defeated by the isolationist ai, who then attacked New Europe with self-replicating hylonano of a type the defenders had no protection against.

It was too late for New Europe, but the technorats together with the New America nationals (who had previously supported the NEHDP) sued for peace. Amazingly, some of the New Europe imprisoned technorats had survived the ai invasion, although now they had ascended and merged with the ai collective. It was these posthumans who conducted treaty negotiations from the ai side. An arrangement regarding asteroid ownership was drawn up, with the isolationist ai taking the lion's share, and the New Americans agreeing not to venture close to any of the ai worlds. New Europe was renamed Isoai, and became the third aiformed world in the system.

The human defeat was to send shockwaves through the system for decades, and reaffirmed in the suspicion many mainstream hu had for the technorats, who they considered isolationist sympathisers or allies

The Federation Period
In 1156 the Federation robot Survey Vessel Magellan arrived to find the mainstream human population still reeling from the loss of New Europe, a moderate population living in domes on New America and orbitals above, a number of technorat social experiments and scientific outposts on some of the moons and planets, Pioneers well established in the outer system, and a strong Diamond Belt presence on the inner planets. The technorats had already joined via radio link and were now officially welcomed as Federation citizens. The crew on board the Magellan contacted the colonists and enquired if they would wish to join the Federation. The House debated long and hard on this; while the Corporate mainstream wised to join the Federation, the Pioneers were suspicious of "big government" and feared this was an interstellar fascist regime, and the Fundamentalists likewise wanted nothing to do with with the Federation, which they had inflated into a kind of satanic evil empire in their imagination, and considered responsible for the inner system ai and the loss of New Europe. The fact that the Magellan was crewed by an AI only confirmed their suspicions. Nevertheless the House agreed by a three-quarters majority (with only the Fundamentalists objecting) to open diplomatic relations, trade and scientific and resource trade with the Federation.

Technorat Technology
Thanks to the influx of theoretical and practical knowledge from the Federation, and exchange of knowledge between Federation and Technorat ai, Technorat technology, science, and toposophics, developed dramatically over the next few centuries in a very practical manner, directed mainly towards new and better ways of solving the problems of space habitats, terraforming, ecology and transport. While theoretical science and biotechnology have developed, none had any significant effects for various political, economical and social reasons. A theory of space-time structure developed by Elias E. Jordan and Irene Abott in 1267 parallelled the Abdela theory developed by the Federation AI research team on Galileo Orbital, but it lacked practical applications. Although much work was been directed towards the creation of super-dense materials based on supersymmetric particles, this was all rendered irrelevant by the Federation AI discovery of magmatter.

During this time, the Technocrats established further settlements on the outer moons, working with the Federation and growing in power. While there was occasional friction with the Pioneers, for the most part relationships were good and there was frequent cooperation. Cyborgisation was popular and radical, and they were often referred to by the mainstream and the Fundamentalists as "borgies" and "ai-buddies".

Trade and the Megacorps
With trade opened the megacorps began to acquired large claims on moons, asteroids and gas giants in exchange for technology, including superior terraforming bugs and nanotech assemblage units. The Technarchs gained most, and often went into partnership with the federation developers. The Pioneers, who had their own asteroid and kuiper settlements, were more isolationist. Together with the equally isolationist orbital and surface-based Nationalist Party, they began agitating against the Technocrats and the Federation, spreading lurid rumours and even staging a series of fake bombs attacks that they blamed on a new Technarcy faction. When the Technocrats, with the help of the Nova mediacorps, exposed "Nationalgate" for the whole Federation to see, it was very damaging, and only served to isolate the groups further, with the Nationalists claiming innocence and accusing the Technocrats of disinformation

Problems with Terraforming
When the New World arrived at Beta Virginis in 856, they discovered that at least one, and possibly three, inner planets had been claimed by isolationist ai. The only remaining terrestrial world was New America, and the colonists set about terraforming the water-vapor rich world with specially designed hylo- and bionano.

As the terraforming process was to take centuries, the colonists set up a number of orbital habitats around the planet, using asteroidal materials.

By 1200 the ice was melting into a vast planet-girdling ocean, although the air was still lacking in oxygen. From the beginning there were problems with the terraforming microbes, which for some reason did not "take", and the population remained confined to large domes. Food was grown hydroponically, or in agribanks. Soil and nutrients for crops was acquired by taking sea biomass and treating it chemically and biologically to create various soil-substitutes (ranging from artisoil, little more than a fibrous mat with nutrients, to grade T soil which is nearly indistinguishable from terrestrial soil, complete with the microecosystems). Another big problem was that the local biochemistry (the soil in conjunction with specially introduced microbes) produced chemicals that caused slight allergic reactions in adults (this problem was later beaten due to geneered immune adaptation) but birth defects in children brought to term by women who had lived on the planet for some time. This was solved by the development of the "pregnancy vaccine", a nanobiogen antidote given to all women in fertile age.

New America is Settled New America turned out to have only one major continent, locked in glaciation, but a large number of sizeable islands. A small surface colony, named Liberty, was set up on the largest island chain in the Temperate Zone. At this time Liberty had a similar climate to Earth's Antarctic, or pre-terraformed Mars

Over the first few centuries, the population settled the main island chain, called the Rockies, which poked above the vast sheets of ice. This was the only area allocated for settlement. The other hemisphere was set aside for slamming small carbonaceous asteroids into it, vaporising the ice and generating large clouds of water vapor and dust that created a strong greenhouse effect.

The Nova Connection and local Mediacracies
During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Nova mediacorps established a powerful foothold in New America. While some relished this vibrant culture, the conservatives saw it as undermining their pioneering spirit. A number of large orbitals were constructed, dedicated entirely to novamediatric culture, although usually with a strong nuamerican slant. The first of these was Monroe Cylinder, a huge habitat completed in 1415 in a polar orbit around the planet Green. These media habitats were almost entirely owned and run by the Novacorps, who skillfully manipulated the local New America culture, and introduced a strong commercial culture that the local government was unable to do anything about. Over the next few centuries a number of powerful local Mediacracies developed, all with strong family genomic and clade ties with the Novas

Floaters and Mariners
On the surface of the progressively terraformed New America, as conditions gradually became more livable and people began to move out on their own, the population underwent a further differentiation into local clans, tribes, states, and city-states, all adding grey hairs to the administration (now relocated at the new capital of the colony). Worse, the Nationalists and Fundamentalists were unable to screen out the influx of Federation, Novamedia, and Technocrat ideas, and many new social forms developed. The old conservative/nationalistic system appeared antiquated and oppressive to many of the younger generations, who felt a much stronger allegiance with the Federation, had sympathies with the technorats and enjoyed the media culture, and moved out to floating homesteads in the tropical seas. The floating schools became home for alternative lifestyles, to the great chagrin for the conservatives in the old orbitals and the surface mainlands. The combination of the laid-back small-scale nomadic schools, media-savvy exhibitionists, and the insular pioneers made an unusual mix; both groups developed their self-sufficiently further and further, at the same time broadcasting their culture as the most desirable lifestyle around. By the middle 1300's there was a cladisation into the floaters, who lived in vast solar-powered airships that were essentially floating cities, and the mariners, who used Federation and Lalist biotech to gengineer themselves into aquatic forms, ranging all the way from mildly amphibious to complete gill-breathers, and built elaborate surface and undersea habitats, often with the help of floater and technorat technology. Among the most important of these mariner habitats were Atlantis City, Nemo, Cousteau, and Costner. There were even mariner-floater crossovers and hybrids.

In 1358 President Gertrud Jess, voted into power by the Bell federalists, attempted to bring the equatorial clades into line. One major reason seems to be that she considered them an equal threat as the technarchs, and just as the Vacuum Brigade had been defeated she believed the equatorials could be handled too. She tried to enforce education and behaviour laws against them, based on their citizenship in New America. As several schools simply declared themselves independent she sent the militia against them as illegal aliens. As a response the remaining schools in a surprise move (likely instigated by some of their pioneer allies) instead declared themselves a state, "Floating California", sent their newly elected representatives to Liberty and demanded places in the senate and lower house, as did "Atlantis", the chief mariner habitat (note - this bore no connection to the Free Zone of the same name established at Zeta 1 Reticuli II some two centuries later). Jess stalled, but the opposition supported the new people, and together with them began to force an impeachment process. Jess backed down, and a new president was elected. Gradually more floater and mariner communities gained membership. For the next few decades Floating California, Atlantis, and the other floaters and mariners played a rather diffuse role in planetary politics, preferring off-world trade with the Technocrats and the Federation. The new states ignored the federal government to a large extent, and its representatives were seldom predictable. Many of the "temperate" groups thought it would be better to simply declare these upstarts an independent nation to get rid of them. But the equatorials (or the "weirdo party" as conservatives called them) became a noticeable factor. But by 1400 they were growing in in power while the Nuyork and Liberty administration was becoming increasingly irrelevant, and without technorat help were increasingly unable to compete.

The NADS Era
The administration reaction was to retreat to the old Nationalist and Religionist orbitals (keeping only Liberty and a few other footholds on the surface) and institute a McCarthyist purge (censorship being easier on the old orbitals than on the surface). In an effort to counter the equatorials, the administration mainstream gave NADs extraordinary powers, New America entered oppressive phase, which only isolated the mainstream and their orbitals further, while failing to stem the "equatorials" advance. Exploiting legal loopholes, the equatorials established floating and aquatic free zones beyond the reach of NADS.

NADS, the New America Department of Security, was originally formed as a response by the Nationalist Party to the Federation presence and possible Technocrat subversive activities. One of its aims has been in minimising the impact of Federation presence. It has not been very successful in this, and its databases were constantly hacked into and subverted by technorat and corporate intrusion programs.

NADS-I, the interstellar arm of NADS, was formed around the same time. With more advanced tech it was more efficient than its parent body, and still continues to this day, although in very different form. During the Age of Consolidation it was the largest single organisation on New America, divided into a number of Bureaus. Bureau 1 handled overall administration and information dissemination to other agencies. Bureau 2 dealt with the security of spaceflight and advanced technology; it generally deals with technological espionage. Bureau 3 dealt with gathering political, economic and cultural information from the other planets. Bureau 4 did threat evaluation, compiling the data and suggesting actions. Bureau 5 handled military, terrorist or other threats to New America. Bureau 6 remained the most secret, and implemented plans from the other agencies (which themselves have agents; B6 agents were generalists with no information about the purpose of their missions).

New America becomes Pacifica

Pacifica without clouds
Image from Steve Bowers
Pacifica without clouds

While in the NA orbitals the mainstream administration and NADs were able to keep a tight lid on things, instituting an oppressive puritan regime, things were not as easy on the surface. The planetsiders, now dominated almost entirely by floaters and mariners, decided to break completely from the oppressive orbital regime. They established a "Pacifica" Alliance (a play on the name of a large Old Earth ocean which means "peaceful") and began agitating for independence, using local and off-system media connections to good effect. Following a series of peaceful protests and some heavy-handed response from the authorities, in 1541, using a cyberian intrusion program acquired from some old technarch sympathisers, they hacked into the garrison defence network at Liberty, and managed to shut down the entire base. A simultaneous attack on the highly defended NADs datafortresses was not successful. On the surface, the loyalist troops, outnumbered, their datalinks down, and faced with a huge mob of brightly coloured floaters, mariners, mainlanders, mediaphiles and other civilians, of every possible clade and combination thereof, some armed with spear-guns, hyperball bats, and other improvised weapons, decided discretion was the better part of valour and surrendered to the cheering and festive crowd.

The NA orbitals' counter-attack on Liberty followed swiftly, using aerospace fighters, but, it was difficult to tell who were the combatants and who civilians, and so they targeted a few media centers and the space port. An NA paratroop force fared only marginally better. They quickly retook the town (most of the floaters and mariners wisely withdrawing rather than face a superior military force) but found they had nowhere else to go. The whole affair was broadcast live to the orbital technorats and mediacorps and from there (via radio link) to the rest of the Federation. Outraged at the attack, and the casualties inflicted by the the paratroops, the technorat habitats and the surface dwellers declared war, and subjected the NA orbitals to a merciless ai-virus assault.

Within two months it was all over, and the NA orbitals sued for peace. Under conditions of the peace accord they were allowed only one civilian orbital in New America orbit, and for the rest they were relocated to some small orbitals around Franklin and Hale orbit. They were allowed a number of orbitals, but the surface was licensed to Federation megacorps, the profits divided between the corps and the technorats. New America was renamed Pacifica, a new constitution drawn up, and a strong defensive military force established in space.

The Virginis Combine

See separate article - The Virginis Combine

The Porrima Incident (Gamma Virginis)

See separate Article - The Porrima Incident

The Technorats and Metasoft Interstellar

The Technorat clades, many becoming cyborgs by the time they establish the Combine, developed a natural affinity with Metasoft Interstellar; even using Metasoft-standard software/firmware/wetware. (Some of them later migrated to Metasoft; there to become the famous Virgin Clade of Metasoft cyborgs, derived from combine technorats.) Together the Combine technorats and Metasoft Interstellar developed the periphery.

The Denebola Incident (Beta Leonis)

See separate article - The Denebola Incident

The Conver Ambi Period

Many local fantasists and historians have speculated what might have happened if the Conver Ambi had joined the NoCoZo rather than having been assimilated into the Combine. But such a merger was inevitable. Both had been following similar paths for some decades. The early Conver Ambi was after all a kind of corporate federation. Moreover, it offered protected tariffs to rebuild local industries, something that the NoCoZo with its "level playing field" refused to do. Although some technorat and Metasoft biont loyalists resisted, the outcome was a foregone conclusion, and by 2512 the Combine and the Conver Ambi announced a merger. Whilst old loyalists bemoaned loss of political autonomy, the bulk of the technorat population was only too happy to see the economy on the rise once again, and an abundance of resources and standard of living that allowed them to once again indulge in their traditional pass-times of creatively exploring and artistically expressing innovating and new forms of Tech.

Image from Arrittrobi
The cover of a Lightways 'postcard' sent soon after Pacifica joined the Utopia Sphere

Pacifica joins the Utopia Sphere
During the 2200s, as the Combine moved in the direction of the Conver Ambi, the Pacificans quietly made diplomatic connections with the NoCoZo and Utopia sphere - NoCoZo helped fund a wormhole link directly to the Arae region in exchange for some tourism, and Utopia agreed to support Pacifica. Even before it was connected to the wormhole nexus, Pacifica was an important regional center, and now with the wormhole link the planet became an important holiday resort, especially with Dolphin, Whale and Squid provolves and aquatic and amphibious human clades. During the Age of Consolidation the world joined the Utopia Sphere, where it was and still remains one of the most open of the Utopia Sphere worlds. The rest of the system remained independent, or aligned with the Conver Ambi. However, Utopia Sphere memetics and ideologies were widely disseminated across the system, and many of the outlying worlds benefited as well from the trade and tourism generated.

Utopic and Pacifican ideological and cultural influence was a big headache for both the Conver Ambi and Combine; their governments were unable to intervene or regulate the wormhole without becoming hugely unpopular and losing plenty of revenues from traffic, and the sensitive situation of the Combine in the Conver Ambi was made even more awkward by this (the Geminga Orthodox were of course claiming this was a primary source of evil memetic infection).

The Combine Seeks to Reassert its Independence As the Conver Ambi slowly hardened the Combine became more and more a center of opposition. The Combine was always too independent and had too long a history to easily become a part of some upstart empire. In trying to remain as independent of the central power as possible by exploiting all available loopholes, at times with secret support from Metasoft allies.

The Great Whale ISO

The history of the Beta Virginis system was completely altered by the elusive but widely worshipped Cetan ISO of Pacifica. Although there is no date where the Great Whale is known to have arrived, by the 2500s if became clear that some Utopia Sphere entity had colonised the sea and taken the role of planetary protector. Worshipped under many names such as Poseidon, Big Surf, Deep Blue or the Great Whale, it remains fairly hidden most of the time.

But during the Conver War it helped the Combine against the Orthodoxy, especially in the famous Polar Battle of Hale where the orthodox tried to seed Hale with singularities in order to 'cleanse' the entire system; the Great Whale revealed itself through a number of avatars and managed to expel the singularities using a massive gravity laser that also broke up the moon Richards into the Richards belt.

The Solar Dominion Takes over When the dust of the Conver War had settled, the Solar Dominion found itself in control of Beta Virginis and a number of nearby systems, (most of the inner parts of the Conver Ambi being absorbed by the Solar Dominion). In view of the Combine's history of autonomy and regional pride, and a rather unpredictable ISO lurking somewhere in the oceans of Pacifica, and three hypertemporal diamondoid civilizations of uncertain ability occupying the inner worlds, Dominion regional leaders had no choice but to administer the system as a protectorate and semi-independent principality, the Betavirginia Province. But even so some of the isolated former Combine territories had cladised to almost unrecognisable form and proved too anarchic to supervise, and they were left under the token supervision of a few vec gunboats. Some of these vec ships later developed their own indigenous culture, breaking free of the Dominion entirely (possibly due to subversion by locals)

Inner System Diamond Network AI Transcension In 3931, after many trillions of years of subjective existence, all three diamondoid civilizations on the inner worlds spontaneously transcended. It is not clear what caused this radical toposophic transformation and migration to abstract spaces; the presence of fairly high toposophic TRHN entities working together with posthuman Technorats in cultural and information exchange may have inspired the isolationists to develop in unique ways, although a visit by an enigmatic Diamondoid Network ISO of unknown toposophic some years previously cannot be discounted either. Nor can occasionally interactions with the Great Whale. Whatever the cause, all the solidstate civilizations transcended radically and in a spectacular fashion. A number of orbiting technorat habitats were lost, their components assimilated by the isolationists, and only the intervention of the Cetan ISO - who generated a swarm of blue goo, the so called Gesture of Sheltering the Ocean, one of Eir Nine Great Acts - prevented a wash of nanoreplicators from partially dismantling Pacifica.

When it was over, the three inner worlds were revealed to be covered in and partially transformed into numerous large structures; similar to planetary ISOs, but not showing any obvious activity or radiation. Billions of smaller objects were also found. During the Integration, world relic hunters and prospectors flocked to the system, which drew in almost as much tourism to the aiballs as it did to Pacifica. While most were inert and harmless, some of the megastructures turned out to be dangerous if automatic defenses were triggered. The Solar Dominion also sent in scientists and researchers, but the results remain inconclusive.

The Version War and Aftermath
Standardization fears of retaliation by The Great Whale ISO spared the Beta Virginis system much grief it would otherwise suffer during the Version War, and whilst the Whale repulsed a Metasoft Drone Squadron that was pursuing Dominion forces too close to Pacifica, it did not interfere when Metasoft launched a punishing relativistic attack on the Dominion bases. Of more unhappiness among the locals was the closure of the Beta Virginis- Arae wormhole for the duration of the war, which seriously affected local tourism.

While Dominion reinforcements held Beta Virginis, and eventually pushed the Standardizationist fleets back completely from the region, the outlying red dwarf systems, apart from Luyten 901-10 and Ross 948, unilaterally seceded and joined the NoCoZo, Cyberia, the MPA, and Metasoft. These stubborn and hi-tech cyborg locals proved much more of a headache to the Dominion then fleets of ships that would stand and fight

Pacifica since the ComEmp

With the end of the Version War and the reopening of the Wormhole link, things looked up for Pacifica. The ComEmp period was a period of cultural and economic renewal, with Utopic provolve clades once again visiting, and the creative and free lifestyle of Pacifica appealing to many throughout the Nexus. While many provolves decide to settle permanently, the local floaters and mariners eventually revert to a sort of hi-tech nomadic shamanism.

In the several millennia since the ComEmp period Beta Virginis has been memetically and ideologically drifting further and further from Dominion control. Although the Dominion retains nominal sovereignty over the system, even the Solarian administrators acknowledge they don't really have much power over the territory, and tactfully decide to avoid humiliation by forcing a crisis.

Today this prosperous historical planet remains one of the most open of the Utopia Sphere worlds, while occasional sightings of the Great Whale ISO are always a cause for much excitement. In 5120 a second cycler (beamrider) network was officially opened, connecting the system with many nearby red and brown dwarfs and several Utopia and NoCoZo worlds. But the locals strenuously resisted NoCoZo efforts for a second wormhole - this time to Argelander, fearing an influx of tourism on the already strained infrastructure and pristine environment. Even so, the link would surely have gone ahead, were it not for another epiphany of the Great Whale ISO, who discouraged the project managers in no uncertain terms.

Today immigration is strictly regulated, and while the outer worlds have been steadily increasing in population, Pacifica remains among the least populated of the Gaian type worlds in the Inner Sphere

The Clades Today

Today Beta Virginis and the surrounding Combine Territories are a culturally and historically rich region where many clades meet and interact. The differences between the different clades in the Beta Virginis system are striking, and the visitor will find much of interest; everything from fanatically loyal Solarist enclaves, old Metasoft Biont Houses, dolphin trading corporations; Utopia influence collides with technorat industrialisation, Metasoft vecs visit their historical site, and NoCoZo interests are constantly interacting with opposing/supporting/complicating Dominion interests. The following is what can only be a very incomplete and partial overview of some of the historically, culturally, economically, or memetically more important of these clades

Na - Although there are a few large orbitals in Franklin orbit that are known as "The Demapoly of Na" or "Ne" (pronunciation differs), the Mainstream, the Nationalists, and most of the Pioneers have long since disappeared, or been assimilated into other clades. Citizens of Na tend to be mostly mildly cyborged space-adapted humans.

A few heavily derived pioneers still live in kuiper and oort habitats, where they have hybridised with the off-system haloists and slowship backyarders so much as to be unrecognisable to any of the original colonists.

The fundamentalists, currently limited to two habs in orbit around Franklin and Green, and are comparatively conservative and have not changed style or genome much since the early days of colonization. Apart from some mild cyborgization to allow easier and quicker interface with an implanted hypertext of their sacred scripture, called The Bible and believed in its core elements to go back to pre-industrialised Old Earth, they have made no concessions to the modern galaxy, and their genome remains at the traditional baseline or nearbaseline grade. They still worship an Old Earth iron age resurrection deity called Jesus Christ. Their settlements are a popular and easily accessible haunt for anthropologists and sociologists wishing to research baseline religious culture. The "fundies" as they call themselves, accept these visitors with the same air of superciliousness they reserve for all non-believers.

The Floaters and Mariners constitute an astonishing variety of clades and cultures that inhabit Pacifica and some orbitals. Even after nearly seven thousand years they have a strong culture, with mostly genen, zoeific, and empath links. They still retain an embassy and close and friendly links, with Nova's Kingdom of Eyre. Pacifica is an official Utopia Protectorate, and almost all Pacifican clades pay homage to the Cetan ISO, who is variously known as (depending on the clade and religion) Poseidon, Big Surf, Deep Blue or simply The Great Whale. This homage varies from simple decorative charms and tattoos to enthusiastic pananimism, in which the ISO is considered the original manifestation of the Cause of Causes, (also known as the Primordial Ocean). Stylistically, these clades vary as greatly as they do genomically and religiously. Mariners may be nude, their own leathery skin-covering, decorated with rich stylistic or naturalistic tattoo-art, being attire enough, or they may wear skin-tight aquatic suits. Again, this varies according to clade and species. The oldest floater demopolis, called Floating California, still tends towards the traditional attire of loose, colourful and holographic clothing, but some of the current era clades are a lot more experimental. While fashions vary from clade to clade and period to period, suncoloring is currently in fashion again among almost all the Pacifica floater clades: by eating special chemical supplements and exposing the skin to sunlight, the skin can be coloured in muted pastel hues. By covering it with patches and taking several supplements complex patterns can be created. Almost everybody owns some kind of airship, boat or submarine. Many people live on house-boats more than on land, even if having a villa somewhere is common.

Today's technorats constitute a hereditary cyborg clade that continues to wield great power. Since the middle Age of Consolidation they have hybridized so much with other off-system clades that they have very little distinctive genomic or cybernetic identity. They do however share a common memetic heritage. Generally the term "technorat" is used to designate any technophile cyborg clade of the former Virgina Combine, who accepts that culture as hir own. Technorats vary from innovative in the extreme to a cultural conservatism that equals the fundies, and everything in between. A popular traditional artform among some of the more traditionalist clades is the ancient art of "acoustical environments" or sound-holo: extremely high resolution sound artworks, tuned to various brain rhythms, associations and musical styles. Inside the environment sounds appear in different places, suggesting shapes and movements. Together with synesthetia training this constitutes a popular entertainment art-form.

Although their numbers, popularity, and influence has varied over the centuries (and currently is on the decline) the Beta Virginis Solarists go all the way back to the late Age of Consolidation, when the Dominion annexed the Combine, along with much of the old Conver Ambis. Sometimes contemptuously called "Bordists" by other clades in the system (although the Pacificans prefer the archaic term "godling"), the local Solarists retain hereditary administrative and titular posts in the colonial administration. As with many colonial Solarists, they have a great love and affection for the God Emperor and the Empire as a whole, and see their role as a vital showing of the flag. But, despite the presence of a small but respectable Dominion naval base on Hotep, formerly Johnson, one of the moons around the Gas Giant Adams, their actual political power is almost non-existent, as even the Base Commander will admit if you can get him over a bottle of fine Shamash Ale during his recreation period. While many of the more militarily sensitive parts of the base are, understandably, off-limits, their are regular guided tours which the visitor will find rewarding. There is also a small orbital shrine to the dead of the Version War

Among the most important of the in-system clades are the big Dolphin Relativistic Trading and Transport Corporations, of which Ocean Space, Hwsii Transtellar Swimming, and Smooth Stars Combine are the most important. These became important even before the Pacifica-Hwsii wormhole was established. The dolphins, with their fine business sense, have bought up a number of offworld interests in the system, much to the discomfort of the technorats, some of which have even made alliances with the Bitenic Squid in reaction. While most neodolphins are offworlders, orbitalists, Hwissans, and relativists, there is a noticeable minority on Pacifica itself, and they are as enthusiastic in their reverence of the Great Whale (or Mighty Song as they call it) as any of the floater and mariner clades.

Metasoft Biont, Metasoft Interstellar Incorporated, and William are among the oldest of the Metasoft biont Houses in the system, dating back to the late Age of Consolidation, and each tracing their genome to the original corporation. The only mildly cyborged hereditary leadership of these Houses still use a development of the original Metasoft O/S Universal 1.2, although this has been modified with a number of enhancements, and each House has its own software, which is incompatible with the other Houses and with Version Tree Standard. Metasoft Interstellar Incorporated still maintains a corporate administrative structure, although this is mainly for traditional ceremonial and cultural reasons, and they wield little real economic power. They are hardly competitive with the Metasoft vecs who visit the system on historical pilgrimages, although the bionts and vecs generally maintain good relations, and Metasoft Biont in particular has profited from vec tourism, remaking their orbital habitats in the mould of the original corporation branch offices.

House Bevs'a, originally BVSA or Beta Virginis Space Agency, has a small fleet of interstellar ships. It still deals with interstellar travel rather than in-system space activities. It is divided into three hereditary sections, the Engineering Division (building and maintenance of starships), Exploration (the use of them) and Research, as well as an extensive networked administration. Each division requires a specific cyborgisation. The first locally made conversion drive ship, the Columbus, is currently in geostationary orbit around Franklin as a House Museum.

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Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Planet images by Steve Bowers, textures by John M. Dollan
Initially published on 03 January 2001.

Fiction about Pacifica

Traveler's Notes - Pacifica Image by Arrentobi added 2021
minor adjustments to initial colonization dates and circumstances, 2020
House Adams section moved into a separate article, 2011