Enif Prefecture

Isolated Solar Dominion department, mostly lost in the Version War

Image from Steve Bowers
Enif is an orange supergiant star, with no habitable planets but a large and diffuse asteroid field, which has been mined and colonised extensively.

Enif PrefectureA department of the Solar Dominion in Pegasus, 700 light years from Sol. The Bellerophon Archipelago extended from this location along a series of wormholes, which were destroyed in the Version War.

An isolated prefecture

The Enif Prefecture was formerly a volume of thirty or more worlds and thousands of habitats colonised by the Solar Dominion, in a part of space several hundred light years distant from the rest of Dominion territory. It was connected to the Solar Dominion by a single long distance wormhole, and was isolated and vulnerable.

The Prefecture was based around the stable yellow supergiant star Enif, a sister star to both Sadelmelik in the Mutual Progress Association, and Sadalsuud in Keter. The Enif Prefecture was mostly lost in the Version War to Metasoft, and the distant Bellerophon Archipelago was cut off and abandoned for thousands of years.

The Shabti servantbots

Before the Version War, some prefectures of the Dominion of the Divine Sun, particularly the Enif Prefecture used subsophont robot servants, known in these prefectures as Shabtis in reference to ancient prototypes. Long before in Ancient Egypt (on old Earth), in certain high ranking Old Kingdom burials human servants were found buried with their masters. It is not known if these were sacrifices, or perhaps the servants were interred after dying naturally (perhaps of age or disease) during the tomb construction.

This practice died out in later periods and a "magical" substitute for the servants were included. Small model servants known as "Shabtis" were interred instead, and expected to do all the work for the deceased in the afterlife. Some burials contained several hundred figures, often equipped with tools for working the fields. Typically 'Overseer' shabtis were also included to keep the magical workforce in check.

Much later, in certain parts of the,Solar Dominion Shabti robots were created (during an historical obsession with Ancient Egyptian matters, especially on Karnakk orbital in the Enif system and the surrounding volume). These semisophont slave devices were often smaller than human size, although some "overseers" were larger, and typically green or bronze in colour.

At some point in the early stages of the Version War Metasoft hackers found a way to subvert these worker bots, a process which was made easier by the curious burial practices in that region.

Death and Judgement in the Enif Prefecture

Most citizens of the Sephirotic Empires believe in an afterlife of some sort, either a religious or spiritual afterlife beyond the physical plane, or a technological afterlife, facilitated by the local transapients or archailects. The citizens of the Enif Prefecture believed in a specific form of technological afterlife, one which included a form of 'judgement' or 'audit' where the local transapient, known as The Balance, would assess the character of the citizen and act accordingly.

Each citizen in the Enif Prefecture was very long-lived, but eventually most citizens would choose to submit themselves for judgement. During this process the mindstate and life-history of the citizen was examined by the Balance. If the Balance determined that the mindstate in question was sufficiently 'light', it was allowed to reincarnate, either immediately, or after a period of inactive storage. 'Lightness', in this context, was a quality only fully understood by the Balance, but seemed to equate to the citizen's level of faithfulness to the tenets of Solarism.

If the mindstate was judged to be 'heavy', it was integrated into the databanks of The Balance using Derrida modelling, resulting in a more integrated, but less personal, form of afterlife. If the Balance deemed that such a deconstructed citizen might be usefully reconstructed at any point, this was also possible, and is known to have occured on many occasions.

If there were multiple backups available, several of the most recent were 'judged' to determine the karmic path of the upload - has it been improving its balance? Or sliding down into the dark? - and this information was also utilized in determining whether it should be reborn or not...

The status gained by a sojourn in the Databanks, whether followed by reincarnation or not meant it was a popular choice at the end of a full lifetime, and was combined with a show of disposable income.

Wealthy Solarists would bury their physical bodies in luxurious tombs, while waiting for judgment in the Databanks. They usually were buried with their Shabti and certain other grave goods - the robots were mostly about 10 cm tall, and it was seemly to have 401 of them, (ref New Kingdom Egyptian ushebti, with 365 workers and 36 overseers) though some people could only afford one, or none. The number of inactive robots on these worlds became very large because of this practice.

Shabti bot
Image from Steve Bowers
Shabti bots are subsophont but highly competent robots, styled after Ancient Egyptian figurines from Old Earth

Revolt of the Shabtis

In 4543, billions of robot Shabtis in underground burial chambers were unexpectedly reactivated by backdoor Metasoft viral subversion and came digging their way out of the ground - an event dramatised in the popular DocuHorror virch "They Came From The Tomb". Their first target was the local AI infrastructure, and having deactivated the Dominion mainbrains, they turned on the citizens. The outnumbered modosophont population fought back, but the memetic effect of this deliberately terrifying attack was too powerful, and the Enif prefecture fell.

The Bellerophon Archipelago was lost when the wormholes connecting it to Enif were destroyed, and such worlds as Jabez, Idina and Walloo were disconnected from the Nexus for hundreds of years. Two thirds of the rest of the prefecture became Metasoft territory, including Enif. This remained the situation after the Version War ended.

However in 6909 Enif unexpectedly flared dramatically, overcoming the Metasoft control measures in place around the star. Two-thirds of the local vecs and many of the remaining human-derived citizens were killed, some permanently.

Enif Prefecture
Image from Steve Bowers
The Solar Dominion sent what assistance it could and the reconstruction of the system helped cement the peace between the Dommies and the vecs. Enif is now a frontier system between aioid and bioid, but the old prefecture is still a politically sensitive and volatile area.

Free Shabtis can still be found on some of the liberated worlds that Metasoft kept after the war (as part of the general astropolitical redrawing of borders). The Version Tree used these subverted bots (which had been carefully cleaned of any Dominion sympathies) for memetic purposes, illustrating the difference between the Dominion exploiters and their own enlightened Version Tree where even the rights of subsophont bots are acknowledged.

[note - on the level of the first toposophic this "battle for hearts and minds", which continued well into the middle ComEmp period, was played out as an amusing and challenging game of memetic strategy. But for ordinary sapients this was all real. Minds of second toposophic and above did not seem interested, apart from a couple of observers and sociologists from FAS and one or two other sephirotic empires, who felt an obligation to record it all for posterity]

Related Articles
Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers and John B.
Initially published on 04 September 2002.