Festival of Sin (SinFest)
Image from Bernd Helfert
The Festival of Sin
More popularly known as SinFest but also refereed to as Seven Deadly Days and Get Krek'd Week. Originating from the Sophic League system Amantus during the mid-8th millenium Sinfest was first an exercise in explorative moral philosophy but has since become popular in multiple systems for purely hedonistic reasons.
Amantus Amantus is a red dwarf companion to a giant star in the middle regions. Separated by three light weeks from its primary the dwarf system has been colonised twice in its history, first by Deeper Covenant Vecs sometime between 5110 and 5290 a.t. Records of the small orbital band's history are vague owing to local privacy laws. Interviews with extant sophonts who visited the beamrider hub at this time are similarly unreliable as consensual memory encryption was a requirement for all those passing through. Regardless the Deepers did not remain at Amantus long and after a few centuries of emigration higher than birth rate the system was abandoned.
Other than the odd band of travellers choosing to stop by on their way through the Lightway and Beamrider network (temporarily awakening the mothballed habs) the system had no permanent inhabitants until 6700a.t. Much of the surrounding territory was now affiliated strongly with the Sophic League with Amantus serving as a convenient travel relay, particularly for the lightway. In the 68th century traffic reached a point where sufficient numbers of passers by ensured a continuous community. By the next millennium a formal polity was formed as a dominion of the League.
From this time Amantus has remained minimally populated. It's few natural satellites were all converted into habitat space of varying kinds, ready to home any visiting clades. To this day most of the habs remain empty with just under ten million Amantians spread between over one hundred thousand habs. This under-utilisation of living space is reversed for the seven days of SinFest every year when up to a billion celebrants arrive to take part; routing through a comm-gauge wormhole orbiting the giant star companion just two light weeks away.
The Festival In the 7400s there grew a minor movement throughout the Amantus orbital band to explore classical themes of evil in order to better understand the moral philosophy of ancient societies. This practice involved studying in depth a particular creed and culture in order to create a ritualised event whereby proscribed behaviours would be fully acted out, albeit with safety nets of medical technology to reverse any damage (including temporary death). Augmentation was a key component with psychoware in particular used in order to shift the psychological responses of the participants into an appropriate state to appreciate and not be revolted by their actions.
As an act of performance philosophy it was not well regarded. However it became truly popular after a 7489a.t. congregation from Hab Nikaea explored a concept known as the "cardinal sins". These seven behaviours were considered by ancient sects of Catholicism to be the basis for all immorality which intrigued the event planers. Adopting a contemporary calendar to the earliest writings they could find they planned a week long experience wherein each 24 hour day would be dedicated to exploring one of the sins. Booking a secluded section of their rotating hab they programmed their environment to alter itself daily in terms of aesthetics, layout and services in a manner appropriate for each sin. Libraries of body and mind modifications were curated for members to select from as they wished. A 14 day period of hermetic isolation was also planned for each practitioner to reflect on their experiences.
Despite only having an initial attendance of a few hundred sophonts by the final day their numbers had swelled to over four thousand as data streams of the event were received by the rest of the orbital band. The following year a second Nikaean congregation was held attracting nearly fifty thousand, tripling the Stanford torus' population. By all reports it was considered the most entertaining and exciting thing to happen in local history. Over the centuries the event has become a Festival, largely divorced from spiritual or philosophical meaning (the most poignant example being the considerably rarer observance of the hermetic fortnight, alongside the lack of any followers of Yehoshua), that is annually practised in hundreds of systems, while tens of thousands have hosted a SinFest at least once.
Exactly how each day is celebrated varies between place and time. Larger habs will often split themselves into multiple zones that each focus on exploring different interpretations of the sin. For brevity the following list summarises how each day was celebrated at the most recent Sinfest held by the founding hab of Nikaea:
Day 1, Gluttony: Steady-state economic controls were disabled and price calculators set to undervalue all goods. During the previous night the number of fabs, both general and specialised, had been increased by an order of magnitude. When the Festival officially began at 6 am bountiful luxuries poured throughout every public space. The hab bot-force was stretched to its near limit laying tables of food, fuel and narcotics. The psychoware de jour encouraged a ravenous desire for consumption, ambient temperature was dialed down as medisystems kicked metabolisms into overdrive (many struggling to maintain net-neutral calories without causing hyperthermia) and pre-released bodymods ensured that all participants could interface properly with the vomitoriums.
Day 2, Greed: As the morning lights grew brighter on the second day a shift was triggered in the psychoware of each participant. The insatiable desire to consume was ever present but conflicted with a new drive to accumulate. Festival goers attempted to hoard as many consumables within hands reach as possible, a difficult task as their natural inclination was to feast as fast as possible. In some locations challenges began to see who could resist the former urge the longest as servitors piled goods around and literally on the competitors. One young Tavi resisted temptation for so long he was crushed by the weight of the food upon him (earning this years prize title of First Dead). Exploring the balance between consumption and hoarding resulted in many different strategies with rivalries from previous years reemerging.
Day 3, Envy: Again in time with the morning lights the festival goers found their base instincts shifting. The desire for consumption faded dramatically to merely appropriate metabolic levels (a good thing as even the most heavily modified participants were struggling with bodily damage after two days of food, drink and drugs). The drive to hoard remained, however tight constraints were loaded into the hab's economic regulators. The fabs fell into slumber as the Festival became zero-sum. While many services were suspended, preventing the recruitment of hab bots into gaining and protecting resources, the angelnet still acted to prevent most violence. Practitioners quickly descended into a rapid flurry of theft, alliances, betrayals and trickery as they worked to build the biggest pile of leftover goods.
Day 4, Wrath: The transition between Envy day and Wrath day was sudden. In an instant the desire for the biggest hoard was replaced with the hatred at the thievery of others. Compartments opened throughout the hab releasing all manner of personal weaponry, tailored specifically to ensure a reasonable fair fight between all the different clades. The angelnet dropped its threshold of preventing violence to anything that didn't strive towards a quick death. Storehouses of engenerated and temporary bodies based on the attendants powered up, ready to quickly reinstate the slain so that they might return to the fray. Roving autodocs caused fierce fighting between those seeking a quick repair and those trying to pick off the weak. Alterations to the infrastructure of the hab made discreetly over the previous few days ensured that no significant damage would be done, instead all surfaces and features had been redesigned to be destructible in the most satisfying way. 80% of the hab interior was demolished to some degree by the end of the day. Surprisingly to all the male Tavi that was the first to die on Day 1 redeemed himself by not only surviving all day but also killing the most other participants.
Day 5, Sloth: As hab maintenance systems went into overdrive to undo the mess and damage of the previous few days the Festival goers were all struck by an intense feeling of comforting lethargy. As some fabs recycled dropped weapons and body parts others released devices to facilitate pleasure with minimal personal effort. Walking beds, massage sheets, power-robes, feeders and entertainers of all sorts embraced the tired participants. Pleasure from simple comfort became euphoric, inversely proportional to the amount of movement and energy expenditure one was engaging. After the chaos of Wrath Day 5 was calm, filled with quiet indulgences and a reclining population. Some even went so far as to modified themselves to interface with life support machinery, alleviating themselves of even the effort of breathing. Later reviewed as being one of the most well planned days Sloth also allowed the Nikaean infrastructure services breathing room to repair all the injured and tidy up.
Day 6, Pride: Upon waking on the 6th day each participant activated a complex neuromod bestowing extreme solipsistic narcissism. Every individual became intensely vain, unable to interpret any experience in a manner that didn't highlight or reaffirm some positive trait of theirs. Beyond this the mod inhibited the ability to conceive of sophonce existing in any other entity but themselves. For the entire day practitioners engaged in whatever activity they pleased, including interacting with others, the whole time believing themselves to be the only being in existence. In one case a couple engaged in enjoyable conversation remained in a near hysterical state for hours, both convinced that the other's good sense of humour was an extension of their own peerless mind. Nikaean decor facilitated the experience with abundant features such as mirrors, displays looping footage of impressive feats (which each viewer congratulated themselves on, despite not being in the recording) and SycophAndroids that wandered among the crowds extolling the virtue of each participant.
Day 7, Lust: As is tradition Nikaea ended its SinFest with a bang. As the hab architecture shifted into bordellos and dungeons psychoware updates induced feelings of love, empathy and pansexual omnifetish orientation upon all festival attendants. Discrete autodoc alcoves worked all day to provide new and erotic bodymods for those interested (including full erotogen conversion), CourtisAndroids hosted orgies and ensured a constant flow of liaisons among strangers suited to becoming lovers. For the final few hours of the day one person in every area would have the pleasure of being considered the pinnacle of beauty, doted on and served by all until the SinFest management programs shifted the focii to another participant. The vast majority of attendants had not opted for fertility, and of those that did few were inter-fertile. Despite this the latest Lust day is reported to be responsible for nearly two thousand births, hatches and compiles.
As is normal most Festival goers left the hab a day or two after the Festival with less than one in ten remaining to observe the introspective hermetical period. In spite of this SinFest 10,500a.t. won several awards and is widely considered to be in the top one hundred since the Festival began. So much so that popular rumours have spread throughout the net that somewhere on Nikaea, hidden in a stasis pod, the happiest Tavi in existence is slumbering away the time til next year.
Text by Ryan_b
Initially published on 12 May 2018.