Guanche - a Lost Colony

Image from Steve Bowers
Guanche is mostly ocean, with just a few small continents

Star: JD 76601
Distance from Sol: 2899 ly
Type: G2V
Luminosity: 0.998 Sol
Guanche: PelaGaian Radius 7052 km
Fueteventura: Cytherian Radius 1670 km
Canaria: Eujovian Radius 59880 km
Gomera: Eujovian Radius 51325 km

The end of the Cygexpa era

Prior to the dissolution of the Cygexpa association, several smaller empires became established in the Cygnus Expansion direction, including the Deneb Trading Volume, and the Hosoko Hegemony. Throughout the Cygnus vector, the establishment of wormholes was performed by the Heavenly Reach, an aspect of the god known elsewhere as the Lord of the Nexus.

Until 7287 a.t. the many smaller empires in this region of dense starclouds were more or less faithful to the corporate religion of the Cygexpa CEO-god Lohengrin, who cared for his employees with benevolent paternalism. In the case of the Hosoko Hegemony this affiliation came to an abrupt end when the Hegemony seized all the assets of the Cygexpa association and reorganised them for their own benefit, in accordance with their own toposophocratic ideals. Eighty worlds, strung out along two wormhole trunkroutes 3000 light-years from Sol, became independent at a stroke.

Within two weeks the Hegemony had broken down into chaos and rioting, some said as a result of a memetic virus introduced by Lohengrin himself, while others point at a pre-existing conflict between expansionists and conservatives within the Hegemony. The Heavenly Reach, as master of the Nexus trunk routes throughout the region, deflated the Wormholes to submicroscopic size and transported them away in Eir peerless reaction-free vessels. As the most precious artefact of the Sephirotic Civilisation, the wormholes could not be wasted or allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Guanche loses contact with the Civilised Galaxy

Far from the centre of the Hegemony, a single eugaian pelagic subtype world known as Guanche was now isolated, forty light years from the nearest Hosoko world Far Dniper, and two hundred light years from the nearest wormhole access. The informal Hosoko Posthegemonic Management Network that was formed to recolonise the volume encountered many problems and did not reach Far Dniper until six hundred years had passed, circa 7900 AT. By this time Lohengrin had formally dissolved the Cygexpa Empire, perhaps as a consequence of the suffering of ordinary sophonts during the break-up of the Hegemony. Far Dniper became completely depopulated apart from a few self-sustaining databanks, and the HoPoMaNe ships never reached Guanche at all.

In the Guanche system, the solar collection swarm Power known as Uncle Jnr and the planetary development Power 33Lara took opposite sides in the memetic struggle which tore apart the Hegemony. For two weeks the skies were full of microwave lasers and kinetic missiles. By the time the wormhole departed, both AI entities had been terminated. On the many volcanic island chains of the Guanche World Ocean, ten thousand human colonists emerged from their power-less shelters and faced a future without transapient guidance. The frozen north pole cap of Guanche is held captive within a rough ring of snowy volcanoes, while the warm ocean at the equator is home to several chains of volcanic islands, and a pair of miniature protocontinents complete with gold and diamond bearing deep pipe structures.

All the tropical islands are more or less covered with amphibious phytocoral, which has features in common with both the terran animal and plant kingdoms. With their roots in the sodium sulphate rich oceans, the phytocorals use sunlight and the mechanical power of the constant wind to purify the seawater and pump it far inland, supporting a rich biota including swarms of flying seaworms commonly known as Plash birds. The dominant predator is a sessile carnivorous phytocoral, the Hooktooth tree, which casts its fan-like appendages into the wind to catch plash and tear them apart. Some favoured species escape this fate, however, and are covered in spores as part of the tree-coral's reproductive strategy.

Most of the Hosokans lived on Maxorata Protocontinent, where hundreds of square kilometres of nanotech solar energy collectors had been established by the time of the Hosoko Riots. The ruling Expansionist faction had control of the solar nano and a multipurpose matter compiler, which they set to manufacture anti-riot equipment too late, as the opposing Stasis faction broke in and destroyed the compiler, and set the fields of solar nano to the torch, to prevent the manufacture of weapons. The only other matter compiler in this small colony were set to create robot submersibles to explore the underwater coralline environments. This machine disappeared shortly after the end of the troubles, together with the submersibles leaving the colonists with hardly any working high-tech equipment at all.

The human colonists of Guanche had been radically gengineered so that they could metabolise the proteins and amino acids of the local biota, while having tolerance for the high arsenic level in the soil. 33Lara had been apprenticed in Eir early decades to the Zoeific Biopolity genemasters, but now she was gone, and the population of colonists suffered a decline until their tweaked genes became self-sustaining. Particularly difficult to bear was the failure of the medical equipment, dependent on advanced AI and stored energy. Very little energy was available to run any of the equipment that remained, although batteries and capacitors were constructed, they could not replace the lost nanotech, and as the original colonists grew older and died without backup, the memories of the lost wonders became distant dreams. After two hundred years (circa 8100 AT) each surviving piece of the old technology became the centre of a mystery cult, rarely used and little understood.

The New Bronze Age and the Pirate Empires

With an iron poor planetary crust the opportunities for metalwork, except in native gold and copper, were few, and an efficient replacement for metal in edged tools was found in the abundant obsidian of the volcanic uplands. The Hooktooth trees provided long fibres, which could be bundled and woven into shelters, tribal roundhouses and ocean going trimarans. Around the central ocean several waves of colonisation established a series of trading routes including the Maxoratan empire and their rivals the Ayoze, the Jandia, and the Tamonante Tindaya.

Great war galleys, the Trimaraemes, were pitched against the tropical winds in sea battles to decide the fate of the archipelagos and protocontinents, urged on by the cadence of the drums of the Zorta (from the ancient form Exhorter); taking turn to raid the weakest islands and take the phytocoral farmers and plashermen as slaves (though most of the oarsmen were in fact free men and women warriors). The Tamonante Tindaya in particular were piratical and ferocious, collecting mystery tech objects and golden body adornments to sell in the more disreputable harbour towns.

After seven hundred years (circa 8800 AT) the chalcolithic cultures of Guanche were engaged in a constant struggle one against the other, a situation which would have continued if a group of Maxoratan slaves had not been taken to the heartland of the Tamonante Tindaya, and the great sealord Guize took a slavewoman as a companion. Erbanie was one of the few people left on Guanche who still spoke the ancient Cygnese trade language, and when she was finally allowed to see the most holy of all Guize's mystery objects she realised that she alone could understand the whispered words it was speaking.

How this object, the most vital of all the ancient technology, was missed during the years of decay and death after the fall of civilisation, no-one can now tell; but with the information it was able to give to Erbanie, the pirate nation of Tamonante Tindaya were able to conquer their world. More important still was the conquest of the material world, which allowed Guanche to progress to the microtech level and to tame atomic power in sixty years, which also allowed them to send the distress signal which attracted the Archosaur empireship Mirzallika and brought Guanche into the sphere of influence of the new regional superpower.

Every year, the islanders of Greater Guanche give thanks on the day that the concubine Erbanie heard, and understood, the words:

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Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 09 June 2003.