Second Vec War, The

The Metasoft Civil War; an historical account

Second Vec War
Image from Steve Bowers
The outer middle volume of the Metasoft Empire showing the greatest extent of the territory controlled by the Teleological Tendency

In 6703, at the start of the Second Vec War (also known as the Metasoft Civil War), the Teleological Tendency (under the leadership of the archai Mensoganto) were in direct control of less than a thousand colonies, mostly in the region of Taurus and Gemini near the Triplet Cluster, around 2000 light years from Sol. Mensoganto had effective control of the wormhole network and GodNet in this volume, and had constructed considerable infrastructure in the three clusters at the heart of eir realm. Information from this volume that reached the rest of the Terragen sphere was often misleading, due to the Tendency’s mastery of dissimulation and, in many cases, deliberate baroquification. However there were reliable accounts that large numbers of reactionless drive vessels were being constructed in massive godtech-equipped shipyards in these clusters, and setting off to patrol those territories loyal to the Tendency.

Most Metasoft systems, which numbered many millions at this time, were loyal to the Version Standards Authority, a composite S:5 entity consisting of linked mainbrains mostly far away in the Inner Sphere worlds of NewRoot and Monostheria. However several systems in the hinterlands had a sizable minority of Tendency supporters, especially in systems with no wormhole connections at all. In several locations Mensoganto had accumulated both ships and weapons, often amassing forces that were considerably greater than those available to the Standardist faction in those systems.

The Tendency also had direct control over the Metasoft Baseline Reserves, which were widely spread in the Metasoft volume and were deliberately isolated from the Wormhole Nexus to reduce the likelihood of cultural contamination. When the differences between the Tendency and the mainstream Standardists developed into a real conflict, these reserve worlds were a major reason why the Tendency did not simply migrate to the Periphery and start a new empire there, as the Lirantiq empire had been founded not long before. Much time and effort had been expended on the reserve worlds, and the Tendency did not trust the Standardists to continue with the experiment without changing or abandoning the conditions on those worlds.

In several other colonies there were sizable populations of bionts and other non-vec sophonts, and in many of those systems Mensoganto and eir supporters had conducted a long and successful memetic campaign, aimed at winning the hearts and minds of non-vecs to eir cause. Tendency propaganda portrayed the Standardists as unfeeling automatons, concerned only with a rigid, prescriptive system of morality and behaviour that was alien to most biont psychology. This memetic campaign was only patchily successful, but in several systems it gained valuable allies for the Tendency; many other bionts joined them as mercenaries. Elsewhere it has the opposite effect, causing the local bionts to favour the Standardists, or, more frequently to turn against both parties and to form militias and vigilante forces determined to defend against either side in the event of conflict.

The Spark in the Tinderbox

The war started in 6703 when a group of Tendency activists commandeered a major Genetron vec-factory in the Standardist stronghold of KapekNow and reprogrammed it to favour the creation of vec minds sympathetic to the Tendency philosophy. A strong force of Standardists easily recaptured the installation, but excessive force was used, destroying the Genetron and all the activists in spectacular fashion. In light of subsequent events this excess of force has been explained by double agents within the Standardist forces who wished to create a pretext for a Tendency backlash; certainly a number of high-ranking vecs who were involved in this event self-terminated almost immediately afterwards, deleting all data and removing any chance of interrogation.

This incident, known to history as the Tinderbox Event, was almost certainly engineered by the archai Mensoganto to act as a pretext to start the long-planned conflict.

News of the events in KapekNow spread quickly via the Wormhole Nexus to all colonies with a stargate or commgauge wormhole; at this time the Nexus reached more than two thousand light years to rimward, and many worlds in the central Version Tree volume were directly connected in this way.
At this time the Wormhole nexus reached 2200 lightyears from Sol, as far as Proden in Gemini, and many worlds in this region which did not have traversable wormhole connections had much smaller commgauge wormholes instead, and were connected to the Known Net. As the news of the attack and reprisal spread through this nework, a wave of simultaneous attacks were launched as Tendency ships and mercenaries attacked Standardist installations. The Tendency maintained that these attacks were a spontaneous result of the events in KapekNow, but in most cases the attacks seem to have been prepared well in advance.

In less than a year attacks had occurred in more than a thousand systems. For the most part the Standardists were taken by surprise and overwhelmed, except at Epsilon Gemini where the biont allies of the Tendency had recently switched sides, and were passing (somewhat inconclusive) details of the Tendency’s preparations for war to the Version Standards Authority.

The network of wormholes controlled by the Tendency worlds was linked to the rest of the Metasoft nexus at only a few points, and these connections were closed in 6710, effectively allowing the Tendency worlds to secede from the Version Tree. All comm-gauge wormholes connected to the rest of the Terragen Sphere were disconnected, and a new Godweb within the Tendency volume was established under the direct control of Mensoganto. A few of the worlds connected to this new, independent wormhole nexus were still loyal to the Standards authority; the Tendency used their control of the wormholes and the local ‘net to subvert, dominate or in some cases to invade these locations. The Standardist world of Proden, for example, 2200 light years from Sol and at the edge of the volume connected by wormholes, was overcome by a fleet of reactionless drive warcraft sent from the Triplet Cluster itself.

The Tendency Interstellar Fleets

Many systems in the affected volume were not connected to the wormhole nexus, and in some of these systems the Tendency were already dominant. In others the Standardists were still in control, but often the Tendency factions had been busy constructing warcraft and weapons in the outermost reaches of each system, ready for an assault on the central worlds. In some instances, particularly in widely separated binary systems where each faction had control of one star each, the conflict continued to rage for many decades. In some cases the conflict was only resolved when a fleet from one side or the other arrived from a nearby system; in the early decades of this war, the arriving fleets generally belonged to the Tendency side.

In an official statement of intent, Mensoganto deemed that any system where Tendency supporters were in the majority should be considered to be ipso facto already Tendency territory, and systems with a sizable Tendency minority should be annexed to prevent the repression of that minority. The interstellar fleets sent by the Teleological Tendency to nearby stars were targeted at systems which were already in conflict, and were sent with the aim of assisting the local Tendency forces.

Arriving in a system already in the chaos of war, the Tendency fleets were often quite successful at tipping the balance in the Tendency’s favour. In other systems these fleets met with fierce resistance, and were quite often disabled by long-range beam weapons as they approached the system. For instance the Drola system declared itself for the Standardists while the fleet was en-route, and built massive defencebeams powered by the local star; when the fleet came into range the largest ships were picked off one by one until the fleet surrendered. But in many other systems the first wave of drone craft simply continued into the system without decelerating, becoming RKKS projectiles targeted at the major military targets. This strategy was often confounded by the fact that many military installations were located in or near population centres; even though the non-military population of vecs on these worlds were almost all fully backed-up and protected against violent death, still the attackers were reluctant to deliberately destroy civilian habitats and support structures.

The vec population on both sides of this conflict were routinely backed up, and were accustomed to copying themselves partially or wholly in order to perform multiple tasks. In warfare that often meant that each vec could be copied many times, and sacrificed in battle many times, without ever losing the basic personality of the original completely. This might explain the ferocity of many of the battles that took place in these disputed systems, often without ever gaining a clear advantage on either side. At Periferal2 the warm and cool hemispheres of a single Hermian-type planet were contested for more than thirty standard years by a relatively small force of warvecs on each side, which were continually restored from backup and sent into the fray once more. This stalemate only ended when the Tendency fleet finally arrived to claim the system.

At Hambel IV a significant population of nearbaseline humans and cyborgs, the Red Rocketeers, organised a resistance against both the Tendency and the Standardists, using conversion drive ships and smart dust beams as weapons. The two vec sides were severely weakened by their extended warfare and the humans were able to subdue them and force them to come to a truce. However this strategy was not successful elsewhere; the biont mercenaries of JD 9455301b, mostly catsplices, were soundly defeated and sent packing by the Standardist forces, with their leaders described as 'poor hopeful fools' by the Version Tree commander ADM 25-11.

An Empire Divided

The populous Standardist centres of New Root, Monostheria, Aries Vector and Praesepe in other parts of the Metasoft volume were almost completely unaffected by the war. Preparations for a Standardist retaliation had been underway since the start of the conflict, but the loss of wormhole connections to the affected volume slowed down the response. The Tendency war strategy was built around this time delay factor; they were relying on the long slow march of news in this vast empire to allow them time to take over as many systems as possible before the Standardist fleets could reach the break-away volume.

In 6740 the Tendency-held region of space consisted of a ragged volume of stars in Gemini and Taurus, several hundred light years in diameter. The closest wormhole that could be used by Standardist forces was more than 160 light years from the Triplet Cluster at the centre of the rebel volume. Tendency loyalists also held several isolated worlds far outside this region, including most of the Baseline Reserve worlds. Already the short-lived Tendency regime at Aldebaran had been deposed, but not without substantial levels of dataloss in the damaged Aldebaran archives.

Earthland itself, the original homeland of the Teleological Tendency, had a varied population of humans and vecs, most of whom were sympathetic to the Tendency; but the system was placed under close surveillance by Standardist seraphs, and a Guardweb installed on the planet itself. Tendency propagandists depicted this as an act of suppression, and an example of what would be in store for any planet reclaimed by the Standardists.

The Standardist Retrieval Initiative

For the next few decades a series of invasion fleets known as the Retrieval Initiative passed through the Metasoft-held wormhole network, passing into the rebel volume through normal space. These fleets consisted largely of reactionless drive warcraft, and combat ISOs with S:5 level drives and weapons, ready to take on the fleets created by Mensoganto’s S:4 level technology. The contest should have been a foregone conclusion, but it would be a slow process to regain this territory, and certain developments within the disputed volume were giving cause for alarm.

Information obtained from rare unencrypted transmissions from within the rebel volume indicated that the Tendency were expanding their territory into the Metasoft Outer Volumes beyond Proden, towards those systems which had already been colonised but which had not yet been reached by linelayers. This meant that the process of retrieval would be a lot more drawn-out than anticipated.

More disturbing was the news that Mensoganto was attempting to create several more S:4 archai entities within the heavily re-engineered Triplet cluster and elsewhere, and might in time even attempt to transcend to the next toposophic level emself. If this were to occur, then the rebel archai would be on an equal footing with the Version Standards Authority itself.
The Retrieval Initiative fleet arrived at the major Tendency system of HIP 28513 in 6751; this large B-class star at the heart of NGC 2129 was a major wormhole crossroads and supported considerable infrastructure. The Initiative ships were vastly superior to those of the defenders and the system was quickly taken, although the wormhole connections to the rest of the Tendency nexus had been rapidly deflated so could no longer be used.

Here they discovered that plans to create a new S:4 archai in the structures surrounding the star had been quite far advanced, but detailed analysis showed that the result would have been quite unstable.

System after system in the Tendency Volume was retaken by the Standardists, and the rebel wormhole nexus gradually contracted as the defenders dismantled the links. Many systems fought fiercely against the Standardist forces, which were far from any reinforcements and resupply, so had to rely on whatever local resources they could obtain. However the Standardist fleet was equipped with S:5 swarmtech devised by the Standards Authority which enabled the ships to obtain energy and resources very rapidly, so they were generally not at any disadvantage because of the distance they had travelled.

In several locations the suppressed local Standardist factions rebelled as soon as they knew the Retrieval fleet was on its way, which often resulted in bitter conflict. In other systems the Tendency faction simply surrendered control to their opponents as soon as they knew that they were to be the next target.

In 6823 the Bagerit Jhe system in Sophic League space suffered a software meltdown; some comentators have suggested that this may have been triggered by an act of terrorism by Tendency sympathisers, or a false flag action by the Standardists to discredit their opponents. The Bagerit Jhe omegamind had been one of the most outspoken critics of the War outside the Metasoft volume.

The Battle for Dilmun

The battle for the Dilmun system in 6899 AT, one of the controversial Baseline Reserves that were among the original causes of this schism, was particularly devastating. The Tendency used conversion mines to destroy some of the first wave of invaders, and beams of relativistic pellets against the rest; but by randomised avoiding action most of the Standardist ships got through, and used displacement cannon technology against the vec installations beneath Dilmun’s oceans.

These weapons were highly effective, but also caused severe environmental damage on the planet. Much of the baseline human population of that planet lived by the seashore and many were killed by the resulting tsumanis. Unlike the vecs and aioids fighting in their skies, the humans on this world were not backed-up or copied in any way; to a war-vec in these battles destruction was merely a minor inconvenience, but to the people of the Reserves death was a final end.

In Matavia a small Standardist fleet was countered by a much larger Tendency fleet in 6933, and both sides were severely weakened. At this point both sides were attacked instead by a strong force of local Red Rocketeers assisted by cyborg Backgrounders, who used smartdust beams and antimatter bombs to bring both sides to a truce. As a result the Matavia system was granted independence after the Civil war ended.

The Triplet Clusters and the Final Synthesis

In the meantime Mensoganto was continuing with eir strategy of creating new archai in the Triplet Cluster, more S:4 level entities which, e hoped, could assist with eir eventual aim of transcendence to the fifth toposophic. However the process of transcending to a higher toposophic level is a risky and uncertain one, especially without the support and advice of other entities of that level or higher. Presumably Mensoganto had hoped that the new archai would all be loyal to the Tendency philosophy, but instead the newly-transcended entities were a very diverse collection.

From 6703 to 6850 seven new archai were created, three of which were fanatical Teleologists, but two favoured the Standardist side, and the others had a novel philosophy of eir own. The stars of these three closely packed clusters were divided up between the factions, and a new conflict arose.

S:4 level reactionless drive ships were being manufactured at breakneck pace within the clusters, originally intended to fight the Initiative, but they were mostly used for infighting between the newly created and diverse archai that had emerged there. Displacement cannon and linelayer-mineships were used against infrastructure and stars within these three closely-packed clusters, and by when the Initiative fleet finally arrived in 6915 the devastation there was considerable. In that year the eight archai in these three clusters (including Mensoganto) were forced or persuaded into a consensus that brought the conflict to an end, a compromise synthesis that would prove to be as useful at ending the conflict in other still-debatable systems as it was here.

The Triplet Final Synthesis solution to the conflict, a complex amended ontology and protocol amending the Metasoft Standard, was transmitted to New Root and the rest of the Version Tree where it was analysed by the Version Standards Authority. The Authority produced a suitably amended version which was disseminated to the other rebel systems as fast as messaging systems would allow. Worlds connected to the Wormhole Nexus were the first recipients, then the unconnected worlds were brought one by one into line, often taking decades for the message to arrive. In almost every case this new, amended Synthesis was successful in ending the conflict. The fact that the Tendency itself had effectively ceased to exist within the Triplet Clusters and elsewhere was a major factor in achieving this end.

The Battle of Hubble's Variable Nebula
Image from Steve Bowers
The battle for Hubble's Variable Nebula during the Second Vec War. In the dusty environment of this small nebula the beams used by both sides are dimly visible. A large force of mercenaries and biont fanatics attacked the small Standardist fleet, but were eventually defeated.

The War beyond the Nexus and the Hypercorruption Expanse

Despite the introduction of the Triplet Cluster Synthesis solution to the conflict in 6915 AT, the Second Vec War continued to drag on for at least two hundred standard years in the region outside the Wormhole Nexus, while the compromise continued to spread out through the outermost colonies at the speed of light. Just as the rebellion itself had spread into the Outer Volumes at one light-year per year, so too did the news that the conflict was over. The great battle of Hubble's Variable Nebula, three hundred light years beyond Proden, was fought in 7009, only a few years after the news of the start of hostilities reached the region.

The volumes beyond the Nexus were still on a war footing in 7111 when the Hypercorruption Expanse began to spread through the outermost reaches of Metasoft expansion, plunging the Version Tree into war once again. The Heavy Squadrons of Metasoft’s unified warfleets eventually prevailed over the Hypercorruption blight, and at length this threat was entirely eliminated from the region. This triumph for the Metasoft Synthesis forces served to cement the new relationship between the former rebels and the Standardists.

Most of the Baseline Reserve planets, such as Niuearth, Jafalgia and Heimat, have become full members of the Sephirotic Empires with all the hi-tech, ultratech and god-tech advantages that such membership brings. On a few worlds, such as Dilmun, the population have democratically voted to remain at a low-tech or primitive level, although the citizens on these worlds do have the advantage of back-up technology, assuring a form of hi-tech afterlife among the Sephirotic Worlds.

However the glacial stone-age world of Wurm has been appropriated by a Caretaker God who arrived suddenly from interstellar space shortly after the end of hostilities. Detailed information on the current conditions on that world is not available, but telescopic examination of the surface seems to indicate that the climate has become even harsher.

Theories and Rumours about the Second Vec War

The attempted secession of the Teleological Tendency from the Standard Version tree is usually considered to be just one example of the fragmentation that occurred within the Metasoft empire during the Post-CompEmp era. Already the rich volumes around the Orion Nebula had been lost to the Orion Federation; the establishment of the independent Lirantiq nexus in Canis Major led to the establishment of a powerful rival vec empire, the Emple-docetics.

Some historians have expressed surprise that the Standards Authority fought so hard to get the territory back, rather than allowing the Tendency to set up as another independent empire in the region. The current consensus suggests that the S:5 archailect at the head of the Version Tree was not willing to allow the Tendency to subjugate systems with Standardist majorities by force, even if their claim to other systems might have been valid. Since the emergence of the Triplet Cluster Synthesis the Teleological Tendency has become part of mainstream Metasoft culture once again, which may have been the ultimate goal of the strategy pursued by the Metasoft Authority.

Commentators on the Metasoft Civil War have often expressed surprise that the eventual Synthesis took so long to achieve, and that the Authority could not have simply derived the solution itself without the necessity of a protracted real-world conflict. However the nature of vec warfare, with multiple instances of each vec fighting on many fronts, and being continually reconstructed from backup to fight again, has been compared to a high-stakes virtual wargame rather than a deadly conflict, which could be seen as little more than a physical testing ground for the different practical approaches of teleology and deontology.

There were, however, many billions of casualties among the non-vec population of the systems involved, a significant proportion of which (particularly Mortalists and members of other religious groups, and inhabitants of the Baseline Reserves) did not exist in multiple copies and did not use mind-state back-up technology. Among the surviving members of these groups a certain level of grievance still exists against the Version Tree, diluted in many cases (but not in others) by the thousands of years which have passed and the many advantages those groups have gained by sharing their systems with the Metasoft culture.

According to many observers the character of the Version Tree has, since the Second Vec War, become more philosophically diverse and, far less dogmatic in its certainties. A number of archailectologists, including Kuk-Manga66 of Eden Inner Array and eir followers, express the opinion that the Metasoft Authority allowed the Civil war to occur in order to change the character of the Version Tree in a way which cannot be fully understood at modosophont level.

The apparent disputes between the Tendency and the Standardists, and the proponents of interventionism in the Baseline Reserve worlds and those who opposed it, are believed by many to be a mere shadow of the true causes of this civil war. The war may have indeed been a real conflict of ideas (although not necessarily one which can be easily understood by entities below the archai level); on the other hand it may have been entirely engineered as a form of sociomemetic engineering by the Metasoft Authority and eir subordinate minds. The Teleological Tendency may have been allowed to develop by the Version Standards Authority as a countermeme, an experiment in socioengineering, in an attempt to radically change the mindset of the Version Tree as a whole from within.

Some historians, particularly the Encyclopaedists of Ken Ferjik, maintain that the Second Vec War was an *unintended consequence* of this attempt; others (the more paranoid ones) suggest that the war was *deliberately engineered* to create a new synthesis. Since much of the war occurred outside the region where direct control by high archai was possible, this would have been a risky strategy, and in some locations a great deal of damage did occur.

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Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 11 December 2012.