|Nivenian Empire/History after the Third Nivenian War of Reunification is subjective
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A martial law in the area near the secondary of the Nivenia System, deemed necessary by the Nivenian Imperial Government to root out any remaining revolutionaries, had begun immediately after the Third Nivenian War of Re-Unification. This period, which would last until two years after the end of the war (on Dekemurios 55, 35 NE), would be used as a re-integration period for the population of the former United Democratic Republic of Nivenia B, and would serve to reduce the dissent that caused the mess, redistribute the assets of corporations that threw their support in with the United Democratic Republic, and re-establish loyal Nivenian armed forces to guard the shipyards around Nivenia B3.
However, almost immediately after the end of the war, but before the news of the end of the war reached the public, several thousand agents of the Industrial Safety Party stormed the capital building in the Administrative District of Nivenia Prime during a meeting of the Nivenian Empire's highest officials, and forced most of them to hand over their titles at gunpoint. Then, after the exchange was complete, the former officials attending the meeting were arrested and quickly convicted of embezzlement and bribery. While the convictions were true, corruption is a necessary part of Nivenian politics, and the imprisonment of the officials in question shortly after was mainly seen as a political move by those intelligent enough to notice. The coup took place in the early afternoon of Neochios 2, 33 NE.
As the events of the coup were (technically) legal, the Industrial Safety Party's replacement officials were granted full authority after only about three weeks, a process which was dramatically sped up by the Industrial Safety Party's "greasing the wheels" of the bureaucracy, and implicitly threatening those loyal to the old regime. This corresponded with a series of disappearances all over the Nivenian Empire, mainly of ardent Industrial Progress Party supporters. This, along with massive turnover all over the government, meant that the Industrial Safety Party was able to become fully in charge.
It should be noted that Research and Development Director Dr. Lester Carey was one of the few influential Nivenians to have not been in the meeting when the coup took place, and immediately pledged his loyalty to the new regime. NP-L2-ASI01 followed suit, and although there is direct evidence for it, many began to suspect that perhaps NP-L2-ASI01 anticipated the event and warned Dr. Carey. Both have been quiet on the issue, with Carey stating that he was eating during the time of the coup, and just switched loyalties as soon as he realized that the new regime was taking over, and NP-L2-ASI01 clamming up entirely. However, suspicions remain.
On Ianuaria 7, the Phrovan Socialist Republic announced that they had used something that they called a "SSM," or "Star Moving Megastructure," which apparently worked using their already dubious "VAS," "Velocity Augmentation System," to move an entire star across galaxies in months. As the Nivenian Empire had no proof that this was actually happening, most scientists dismissed the idea as propaganda, especially given the Phrovan Socialist Republic's low population of 16.9 billion, and their Kardashev Rating of 1.0120.
On Ianuaria 20, NP-L2-ASI01 broadcast a message to the Gigaquadrant, informing them of the Nivenian Empire's coup and archetype change, and stating the policy changes that would be likely in the future. That the coup was "peaceful" was stressed, along with the fact that no alliances would be changing under the new regime. Tycoon JOmnivore of JCompany was among the first to respond, stating that JCompany would be happy to maintain their alliance and friendship, and noting that the Philosophy of Prosperity had served the JOmnivore species well.
Many in the Nivenian Empire were beginning to doubt the existence of the Gigaquadrant at all, given the recent and surprisingly abrupt introduction of the Nivenian Empire into this "Gigaquadrantic Community," and some of the crazier things that had been said by supposed empire leaders. This was primarily due to the claims of the Phrovan Socialist Republic, though stupid-sounding nebulous technology had been raising red flags for years. This culminated in two relatively mainstream factions, each controlling one to two percent of the Nivenian Empire's population by Ianuaria 28.
The three factions coming to power had two different views of what was actually happening. The first, the Truth of Nivenia League, believed that all alien races were really Nivenians in costumes (or even genetically modified using tech from the defunct Democratic State of New Home), and that the Nivenian government was trying to use them to extract more tax money from the populace. The second major faction, the Nivenian Interest Protection Group believed that there were aliens, but that all aliens were really just appendages of the New Cyrannian Republic, which supposedly wanted to impose its culture onto the Nivenian Empire and then annex it.
This was, of course, problematic for all those who had had dealings with (or even had their livelihoods dependent on) aliens, as it caused the rapid development of a counterculture of extreme xenophobia, focused on overthrowing the current government in the case of the Truth of Nivenia League, or overthrowing the New Cyrannian Republic (how?) in the case of the Nivenian Interest Protection Group over inane accusations. In order to maintain peace abroad, one of the Nivenian Imperial Government under the new regime's first acts was to suppress discussion of these conspiracy theories in a public setting (i.e. Protests).
This, unfortunately, was great news for the Truth of Nivenia League, which took it as a sign that the Nivenian Imperial Government was trying to suppress them because they caught on to the Nivenian Imperial Government's "shenanigans" and brought the matter up. This caused both an expansion of the conspiracy theory, and an expansion in the number of its followers to 8.5% - over 34 quadrillion Nivenians believed this nonsense! Not just that, but apparently the "genetically modified alien-look-alikes" are "proof" of a "secret super-army" that will supposedly be used to subjugate the population.
Before the Third Nivenian War of Re-unification, it had been believed by most that second-generation kugelblitz reactor technology would be ready by Iunius, 32 NE. However, that was not to be, and between the war, the coup, and the peculiarities of trying to do research during a time of political upheaval, the research was not finally complete until the beginning of Martex, 34 NE. While an earlier completion date would have been nice, the research done had the promise to lower the reliance of kugelblitz reactors on imported Null Spice twenty-fold, allowing for production of Hydra-class Titans to expand from hundreds per year to thousands.
Second-Generation kugelblitz reactors would use plasma-based injectors to insert fuel into the black holes instead of using conventional micro-accretion disks. This would allow for fine control of the plasma stream using electromagnetic fields, and the possibility of added efficiency and lower reactor mass by surrounding the reactor in a gamma-opaque ball of plasma. This plasma would absorb and re-emit the light produced by the kugelblitz reactor, allowing for smaller reactors to exist. This would also allow for a more variable power output, as more or less mass could be used to change the mass of the object substantially in mere minutes instead of hours, or even days for previous models.
Additionally, more stable reactor models of higher mass (those with reaction times/times to explosion if not regulated in the days or weeks), could be supplied with Null Spice directly from Null Spice generators using the black hole inside the reactor to amplify production. This would allow passenger and inter-colony travel at never-before-seen speeds of potentially 0.8c or above, instead of the usual 0.09c to 0.20c offered by fusion ramjets augmented with onboard propellant. This would finally allow the immigration of quadrillions to other systems - if enough engines could be built - a daunting proposition due to the number of Nullian components that would be required.
While any one of these benefits would have provided a great boon to the Nivenian Empire, second-generation kugelblitz reactors were also starting to become safe enough and cheap enough to include as main power systems on some rotating habitats and manufacturing facilities. While fusion had been developed centuries ago, and thus was one of the only trusted power sources in populated areas, it had started to become economical for industrial areas that could not have energy beamed in from a Dyson swarm to use kugelblitz reactors for power. However, the limited availability of Null Spice still prevented these from coming into widespread use, especially at smaller installations.
Interestingly, despite the promise of black hole-based missile systems, kugelblitz missiles were not developed during the second-generation kugelblitz technology program due to engineering constraints having to do with the expense of the Null Spice needed to maintain them inside ships. Due to this, kugelblitz missiles were reclassified as a third-generation technology, along with Null Spice-independent kugelblitz reactor systems. Unfortunately, the new regime, mainly led by members of the Industrial Safety Party, decided to focus away from the kugelblitz technology program, causing research into the matter to significantly slow.
The Truth of Nivenia League, meanwhile, was extremely busy stirring up trouble. They had somehow managed to acquire hundreds of Petacredits' worth in donations, and were not large enough to be considered a "mainstream" political party. While many in power had been silently wishing that the Truth of Nivenia League would quickly fall out of favor, this seemed not to be the case. The only plus side was that within the small portion of the population that was actually able to vote, the Truth of Nivenia League was a very small minority, due to two large arguments against it.
The two main points that alienated the Truth of Nivenia League from voters were first, that many, if not most, of the voters, were informed enough to know about any secret government conspiracy. Second, if there really was a government conspiracy, then the government would in all likelihood try to cover it up, not randomly let some political party take up stopping the supposedly secret conspiracy as their main goal! These two points, obvious to most Nivenian voters, would at least keep the craziness of the Truth of Nivenia League out of high-level politics.
However, this did not mean that the Truth of Nivenia League would not be a problem, as was painfully illustrated on Iunius 20, 34 NE, when a massive protest broke out on one of the ringworlds. While the protest started out peaceful enough, with only a few thousand protesters each, it slowly amassed more and more protesters. Withing three days, the protest had absorbed several billion protesters, and large amounts of looting were taking place, turning the protest into a riot. This instigated several "spin-off" protests on some of the other ringworlds as well.
This was a serious problem for not just the government of the ringworld where the protests were taking place, but the entire Nivenian Empire, as these protests were causing spin-off movements all over the Nivenian Empire. This resulted in many of the Nivenian Imperial higher-ups putting pressure on the coordinator of the ringworld where the main protest was taking place to use whatever force was needed to dispel the protest. By Iunius 38, the coordinator agreed, and notified everyone in the region of the protest that the region was having a mandatory evacuation "due to the possibility of a chlorine spill later in the day." Although only about forty percent of the protesters evacuated, the remaining sixty percent thinking that the spill would not actually happen, traces of chlorine, with the amount rapidly increasing, were found in the atmosphere later that day. The chlorine spill was written off as an "accident," but it was so conveniently timed that most observant Nivenians correctly determined that it was really the government trying to clear out the protests. Not very many outside the Truth of Nivenia League complained, though, as the point that the protesters were trying to make was ridiculous.
Even if this admittedly hostile solution to the protesting worked in the short term, the evacuation of an entire ringworld gigacity to get rid of a protest stirred up a lot of unrest, especially among spiteful members of the Industrial Progress Party. Many in middle management bureaucratic positions had been fired with the coup, as the Industrial Safety Party wanted to install their own cronies in those positions. This, along with recent events, lead to those who had lost their jobs due to the new regime popularizing the government's reaction to the protests as "heavy-handed."
By Novemex, the Nivenian Empire was flooded with dissent from all angles - there were protests from the Truth of Nivenia League, which wanted to stop a fake government conspiracy, there were protests from members of the Industrial Progress Party, which wanted to get back into control after the coup, and there were even protests by members of the Industrial Safety Party, which wanted to find a way to stop all of the protesting. This political unrest created an extremely tense political atmosphere, which would foster the development of several minor rebellions all over the Nivenian Empire.
On Novemex 11, several medium-sized terrorist cells arose in what seemed like a coordinated effort. While the validity of this is unknown, each of the cells contained several billion rebels, at least, and posed a credible threat to commercial and industrial operations inside their regions. As the terrorists were not overt in their operations (mainly consisting of sabotage and assassinations), preventing their operations would be extremely hard. Within two weeks, the terrorists had done Petacredits of damage, causing instability and a loss of faith in the Industrial Safety Party-led regime in the affected regions.
To combat these terrorist cells, the Nivenian Imperial Government passed a new law requiring all subsidiary entities (such as the outer systems, the provinces of the Nivenia System, etc.) to report terrorism levels, and take action against terrorism and small insurgences whenever they occurred. This new law had immediate effects, with subsidiary entities of the Nivenian Empire rushing to create anti-terrorist militias, and protect the facilities that were being sabotaged. Within a week, this had had a dramatic effect on the terrorism rate, lowering it by over twenty percent.
On Novemex 48, the Sublime Grubmolian State, a nation that the Nivenian Imperial Government had long had slightly tense relations with, announced that they wanted to buy weapons from other nations. Eager to be the first ones to pick up on this lucrative deal, MegaSuperUltraCorp (which had recently seized all of the assets and manufacturing facilities of Nivenia Defensive Systems at gunpoint) responded by attempting to sell roughly a million destroyer-sized ships' worth of fusion-bomb shooting coilguns, pre-fabricated shipyards, carbon nanotube-impregnated titanium, and many other random weapons and components.
In exchange for this, MegaSuperUltraCorp decided that they wanted either large amounts of gold, platinum, actinides, or neodymium proportional to the purchase size, or, in exchange for exactly a million destroyers' worth of components (and the facilities to construct them all in two years), they would accept cloning technology that would allow them to manufacture adult-age Nivenians, which they strongly suspected the Sublime Grubmolian State had, given the Sublime Grubmolian State's claims of "Superadvanced Genetic Engineering."
This technology would allow MegaSuperUltraCorp to drastically increase the size of their business - as they already had massive plantations employing about forty quadrillion under their control, they would only really be able to grow their business with population size at this point, severely limiting profits. Instead, they could use a combination of cloning and indentured servitude legislation to create quadrillions of agricultural laborers, charge each with ten years of labor "in exchange" for their existence having been created, and then release them afterwards, to grow a new bunch.
It should be noted that Nivenian indentured servitude laws prevent the practice from being carried out for more than a total of ten years when the cause of the labor is "retroactive," in essence, when the thing being charged for had happened prior to the indentured servitude, and the indentured servitude being used as "payment" for the service received, thus MegaSuperUltraCorp only would hold the clones for ten years before letting them go.
On Dekemurios 3, the Purity contacted MegaSuperUltraCorp, informing them of the warmongering tendencies of the Sublime Grubmolian State, and asking if they were sure that they wanted to sell to the Sublime Grubmolian State, given the Sublime Grubmolian State's "warmongering tendencies" in the past, and the pacifism of the Nivenian Trading Organization for Commercial Benefits. MegaSuperUltraCorp responded that since the Nivenian Trading Organization for Commercial Benefits had imploded during the Third Nivenian War of Re-Unification anyway, its decisions no longer affected MegaSuperUltraCorp.
A few days later, the Purity contacted MegaSuperUltraCorp again, asking if they would like to sell weapons to the Purity as well. The Purity questioned MegaSuperUltraCorp about three types of components that they wanted: Armor against impact-based weapons, nanite-based regenerative tissue or "other kinds of nanotech" (whatever "other kinds" is supposed to mean), and advanced AIs in the areas of weapons targeting and quick reaction. The Purity then offered precious metals (presumably actinides, gold, platinum, or neodymium) in exchange for any of these three components, if MegaSuperUltraCorp had them.
On Dekemurios 16, after evaluating their options and stock, MegaSuperUltraCorp got back to the Purity, with the following answers regarding the three requested components - First, CANI-TI is as effective as armor against kinetic weapons as against lasers, and is the best material currently in use by the Nivenian Empire as armor. While QCD shields are used as well, the government keeps the secret of QCD shields out of the hands of the public (and companies like MegaSuperUltraCorp), and has done so for centuries. Second, while the Nivenian Empire does not have any kinds of nanotech (certainly not repair nanites), auxiliary asteroid mining rigs could be fitted on spaceships to make repairs to armor in-situ (not to mention manufacturing ammo) using gathered resources. Third, MegaSuperUltraCorp did have extremely good AI systems in the areas of weapons targeting and quick reaction, but the systems themselves tended to be between the size of a room and a small house, and tended to consume at least several hundred kilowatts. While this would not be a problem for a big ship, it would prevent those AI systems from operating inside smaller vehicles such as drones.
On Dekemurios 34, the Sublime Grubmolian State got back to MegaSuperUltraCorp about the possibility, stating that the coilguns, gravatic sensor arrays, and pre-fabricated shipyard systems sounded very good to them, and that they might be ordering some soon. This was good news for MegaSuperUltraCorp, which responded on Dekemurios 36 by asking if the Sublime Grubmolian State had the cloning technology that they were after. It should be noted that the Sublime Grubmolian State also decided take the opportunity to call the Purity "filthy" and "warmongering" for their comments against the Grumbolians.
On Dekemurios 50, the Purity responded to the Sublime Grubmolian State by calling their demands unreasonable, and arguing that the Sublime Grubmolian State was not in a good position to make them between the war not going their way and the coup. The Purity also accused the Sublime Grubmolian State of being the ones to cut communications, something that seemed absurd due to the fact that the Sublime Grubmolian State were communicating when the Purity accused them of this. NP-L2-ASI01 delivered a comment that carried with it most of the feelings of the Nivenian Government to express the situation: "They argue and argue about what may or may not have happened, and appear to both forget what they are actually doing while they argue."
On Neochios 3, the Sublime Grubmolian State confirmed that they had the cloning technology requested, and stated that they were arranging their finest researchers and scientists to come to the Nivenian Empire to discuss the matter as a payment method. The Sublime Grubmolian State then requested point-defense and armor for their new ships. MegaSuperUltraCorp analyzed the statement, discussed the matter, and generated a formal contract. This contract was then sent to the Sublime Grubmolian State on Neochios 7.
The contract in question specified the following - MegaSuperUltraCorp's would prepare the materials being sold in advance, give the Sublime Grubmolian State 250 of the prefabricated shipyards when their researchers arrived, and give them the rest of the products (another 250 prefabricated shipyards, and the materials for a million destroyers to be constructed) when the technology had been transferred to MegaSuperUltraCorp's facilities. The ships would be equipped with flak artillery and coilgun-launched fusion missiles, and would be driven by deuterium fusion rockets.
This caused an immediate uptick in MegaSuperUltraCorp's stock, as this deal going through would allow their business to dramatically expand their profit margins buy using large quantities of laborers grown in indentured servitude. However, with cloning becoming an inevitability instead of a technology centuries away, the Nivenian Imperial Government created quite a bit of regulation on the matter in the Ethical Cloning Act of Neochios 22, 34 NE. This act, passed by a large supermajority, required that clones be not biologically older than twenty-five when created, and that equal numbers of male and female clones be created, to maintain gender ratios and preserve family dynamics.
On Neochios 29, the Purity decided to purchase CANI-TI armor and AI targeting systems from MegaSuperUltraCorp for reverse-engineering, offering the wanted rare metals in exchange for the materials, and, by extension, the technology. The rare metals acquired were sold to third parties for Nivenian Currency (totaling over a hundred Petacredits), and then used to begin the three-week construction of a massive cloning plant in orbit of Nivenia Prime. Although it was just a frame for the actual cloning facilities to be installed later, it would provide the framework for later operations.
On Neochios 36, several dozen researchers from the Sublime Grubmolian State arrived at Nivenia Prime to meet with representatives of MegaSuperUltraCorp and discuss cloning technology, and MegaSuperUltraCorp sent the Sublime Grubmolian State 250 of the prefabricated shipyards. Over a long series of research talks lasting two weeks, the technology, practices, and engineering methods of cloning were transferred. Although it was difficult for the representatives of the Sublime Grubmolian State, as the Nivenians hardly knew what their own genetic material even did, they managed to streamline the process of technology transfer by giving MegaSuperUltraCorp only the bits of biology and biotechnology needed for the cloning technology - a very narrow vertical (in that each bit of knowledge required the last) strip of prerequisite knowledge. However, by Neochios 50, the technology had been transferred.
Immediately after the technology transfer, two processes began concurrently. First, MegaSuperUltraCorp sent the Sublime Grubmolian State the rest of the military materials requested - 250 more prefabricated shipyards, and the materials to build one million destroyers over the course of two years. Second, MegaSuperUltraCorp began the fitting of their new cloning facility with mass-produced cloning pods. Complying with the new Nivenian cloning regulations, they began cloning an initial batch of thirty-five quadrillion (to use as indentured servants for farm labor), using several hundred thousand different genetic templates (about a third of a trillion clones each), and growing clones at the biological age of 20.
At the beginning of Ianuaria, the 35 quadrillion clones made by MegaSuperUltraCorp were put to work on the ringworlds. MegaSuperUltraCorp would continue to create clones afterward, but at a slower pace, so that the supply of food would not grow beyond demand, and their business could remain profitable. This was extremely beneficial for the entire Nivenian economy, as the sudden influx of population caused an industrial boom, which provided jobs and boosted the Nivenian economy. While the influx of clones would be a trickle rather than a roar in the future, the effects of this economic boom would be felt for years.
On Ianuaria 15, 35 NE, something odd and troubling was discovered. The Platixi Empire announced to the entire Gigaquadrant that they "have finished developing a super weapon," and apparently "need an empty star system to test it on." This was extremely shocking to everyone in power in the Nivenian Empire, as anything that would require an empty star system to deploy could potentially destroy the Nivenian Empire in three shots, depending on the weapon. The Pure Divinity of Spodia in particular did not seem particularly concerned about this, for some reason, with God-Emperor Ipliq asking whether it was at planetary or stellar scale rather calmly, given the situation. Then, NP-L2-ASI01 pointed out to the Platixi that "... destroying a star is a horrible use of resources and energy, at least offensively. First, neither you nor us nor almost anyone actually has the industrial capabilities to use a whole star's worth of matter. Second, total destruction of everything artificial in a star system could be accomplished by simply destroying all planets, and blasting relativistic flak at everything else to destroy any habitats." This was a massive shock to many in the Nivenian Empire, as NP-L2-ASI01 did not seem to be concerned about this either, and even suggested improvements!
When questioned about the matter, NP-L2-ASI01 told reporters that there were two possible options - either the Platixi were bluffing or they were not. If they were bluffing, then it would not matter. If they were not bluffing, then they would have the power to blow up a system either way, and it would be better to be seen as helping than not. This made a lot of sense, and a majority of those in charge accepted this explanation. However, a large minority did not accept that this was reasonable, and instead concluded that NP-L2-ASI01 was glitching, and should be removed. While they were outvoted by the majority, this would cause a schism in Nivenian politics as to whether NP-L2-ASI01 was competent. It should be noted that this divide was largely independent of party lines.
Ianuaria 53 brought another massive (this time thankfully peaceful) protest by the Truth of Nivenia League for "the government to stop lying to them." The reason for this protest was largely suspected to be that faction leaders in the Truth of Nivenia League had decided that the reason why the Nivenian Imperial Government had "fabricated" the Platixi announcement of the construction of a superweapon was to try and force Nivenians to work harder "for the good of the state." Not only did this theory make little to no sense, but Spodia's calm reaction to the superweapon's development says more to disprove this idea than anything else, as a fabricated crisis would have them overreacting to the event.
Between Martex 3 and Martex 10, a small angry message exchange took place between the Platixi Empire and the Sublime Grubmolian State. The Platixi declined a trade deal with the Sublime Grubmolian State, and commented vaguely that "Re-arming your nation could have disastrous consequences in multiple ways," not specifying what the consequences or ways being mentioned were. Protector Nubel Khjzalo of the Sublime Grubmolian State apperently lost his temper at this, calling the Platixi "socialist filth," and stating that "We will do with our people what we please: you are not to speak or tell the Grubmolian state or people what they should or shouldn't do," which was unnecessarily harsh, but reasonable.
On Martex 17, the Platixi Empire finally divulged the specifics of their superweapon - it would be a form of limited von Neumann probe designed to be implanted into a planetary core, use the geothermal energy inside the planet to charge up and manufacture copies of the "seed," and then destroy the planet and deploy the probes to other rocky planets in the system, where they would act similarly, and then build habitats and trading posts. While NP-L2-ASI01 noted that this was "one of the best ideas I have heard in years," it also noted that "The specific gravitational binding energy would become higher than the enthalpy of vaporization of almost all materials" in planets with escape velocities higher than 4 km/s, a category that includes most inhabited planets. Another question is that of non-geologically active planets.
On Martex 20, 35 NE, the Megastructural Construction Corporation announced the completion of Nivenia A ringworlds 36 through 45. These nine ringworlds would use a substantial amount (but nowhere near a majority) of the materials gathered from the planets that the Platixi Empire brought, and would increase the carrying capacity of the Nivenia System by nearly 25%. When the biospheres were finally put in place and the land was ready to be sold, MegaSuperUltraCorp notably bought the entirety of ringworlds 36 and 37, a daring move on their part, for 55 Exacredits, the largest single-time deal in Nivenian History.
The completion of these ringworlds, combined with the "Boom of the Thirties" as the current economic boom caused by cloning was coming to be called, lead to a massive influx of settlers from the more populated regions of the Nivenian Empire to the new ringworlds, which lead to massive sales for the Megastructural Construction Corporation, and the formation of a daring new plan to acquire even more resources - try to order broken planets created from the Platixi Empire's superweapon for delivery. This would allow for massive influxes of materials, and thus make the construction of even
crazierbigger megastructures possible.
The Platixi, on Martex 38, replied to NP-L2-ASI01, saying "Well the escape velocity is less of an issue when you're effectively tearing an entire planet apart from the inside. As for non-geological planets they are uninhabitable so there isn't much of a need to destroy them." Although NP-L2-ASI01 was as polite as it could in its response, there were at least three major wrong with this statement. First, and perhaps most obviously, trying to "tear a planet apart from the inside" requires energy, as you will be expanding through a region of extremely high pressure, and E = ∫V dP ~ ΔV * Pavg. Because of the gravity compressing rock all around a planet, Pavg will likely be in excess of 200 GPa (possibly even 1 TPa) in most rocky planets, meaning that absurd amounts of energy are still required. Second, Nivenia A12.1 is non-geological (along with almost all colonized planets in the Nivenian Empire), for crying out loud, and it has a population in excess of four quadrillion. Therefore, some non-geological planets are habitable. Third, even if there were uninhabitable planets with no-one on them, they would be even better candidates to destroy than habitable ones - habitable planets are valuable real estate, and uninhabitable ones are not.
On Iunius 5, the Platixi Empire responded to the Megastructural Construction Corporation's request, saying that they would be happy to, as they would supposedly not need the debris anyway, and stating that DIY terraforming machines sounded lovely for payment. This was great news for the Megastructural Construction Corporation, even more so due to a response shortly afterward on Iunius 9, by the Purity. The Purity stated that they had a lot of systems that were not being used for anything (how could any reasonable spacefaring empire not be doing anything with a system?), and specified three candidate systems for the Platixi to destroy the small planets in, leading to a test of the weapon, the destruction of several small planets, the acquisition of materials on the art of the Megastructural Construction Corporation, and the giving of several DIY terraforming devices to the Platixi.
By Iunius, 35 NE, the secrets of cloning were beginning to leak out of MegaSuperUltraCorp, as technological secrets often do. As trillions wanted the information, it was easily obtained, and transmitted to various locations. Interestingly, the governments of the Paulo Fluctus Beta System, and the Caeruleo System seemed most intent on possessing that technology. Once they got the technology, however, their reasons became obvious. As there is so much more that can be done with a higher population, they both wanted to create a large underclass of cloned citizens in indentured servitude to preform manual labor jobs, which would allow those already living in the system to become substantially wealthier.
The fact that the outer systems now had cloning technology was made abundantly clear to everyone when on Iunius 26, the Republic of Paulo Fluctus Beta declared that they would (quite abruptly) begin the process of creating 250 trillion clones by 38 NE. Only a few days later, on Iunius 30, the Caeruleo Governmental Holding Corporation followed suit with a promise to clone 600 trillion by 38 NE. In both cases, the indentured servitude bonds of the clones were given to taxpayers, but the clones' productivity would be taxed more than average to help fund the program.
This was actually extremely good for the Megastructural Construction Corporation, which had branches in both outer systems, as this level of population could warrant building a ringworld in the Paulo Fluctus Beta System, and more habitats in the Caeruleo System, both or which would bring in vast profits. As a result, their stock prices climbed up even further, strengthening the economic boom even more. Accordingly, the Megastructural Construction Corporation began preparing its facilities in the Paulo Fluctus Beta System for ringworld construction.
As the secrets of cloning technology had already leaked from MegaSuperUltraCorp, the only thing that they currently had that everyone else did not were the massive facilities. As such, they still had an advantage due to the economies of scale of cloning quadrillions. Due to this, they decided to begin cloning at low prices for private consumers - with a significant advantage in terms of lower prices in comparison to smaller suppliers. While MegaSuperUltraCorp maintained its business growing clones for farming, it now had a way to productively use unused cloning facilities.
On Novemex 11, Premier Nubel Khjzalo of the Sublime Grubmolian State insulted the Platixi Empire, apparently still fuming about the earlier encounters, telling the Platixi Empire to "Shut up," and that they "did not care for the opinion of a lesser race." Instead of acting like reasonable people, the Platixi decided to make the situation worse by laughing and declaring "Respect us or suffer you racist peasants!". This was largely seen by many in the Nivenian Empire as the smoking gun for the theories of the Truth of Nivenia League and the Nivenian Interest Protection Group. This would have significant political repercussions.
Most notably, the leaders of the Nivenian Interest Protection Group, a relatively quiet faction for some time (especially when compared to the Truth of Nivenia League), declared that this was proof of their theories more than anything else. Their logic goes as follows - the New Cyrannian Republic is a peaceful, democratic state. Thus, when they discover a new civilization, supposedly, they fabricate numerous fake one-species empires from "other galaxies" to demonstrate how bad xenophobia and autocracy are, in an attempt to try and convert other species to their own ideals. Although those who had been to JOmnivore for the JCompany party had taken preliminary measurements, and determined that they really were in "another galaxy," the stars and galaxies that those measurements could have been taken from could have been fabricated. Even harder to believe was the surprising low density of all of the other empires, and the seemingly impossible nature of the hyperdrive technology. In truth, while unlikely, there was no concrete evidence that all space empires were actually either the New Cyrannian Republic, or possibly even some larger faction with their own agenda.
On Novemex 24, Premier Nubel Khjzalo of the Sublime Grubmolian State responded to the Platixi insult by blatantly and explicitly threatening to "destroy" the Platixi Empire's planets with their "colossi" if they "even dare threaten our species again." They then commented that they had "been tinkering and observing the Gigaquadrant long before your people even started to become sapient, so don't even dare call us peasants." This apparently ignores the fact that if they had been a spacefaring race for the last 73,050 plus years like they claim, then they are being horribly inefficient and complacent with their time and resources. A civilization that old, even without FTL travel, could even have become Kardashev 3! Not to mention that that statement tells a lot about both empires - namely, that they were quite planet-obsessed, as the Sublime Grubmolian State seemed to think that the Platixi Empire used planets to house the majority of its population (Habitats are almost always easier to destroy), and that they did not find this weird. The Sublime Grubmolian State then declared that the Gigaquadrant seems to want to "manipulate us and weaken us only to backstab us and hurt us for no discernible reason," which says a lot about their attitude towards other nations as well.
NP-L2-ASI01 responded to this statement by Premier Nubel with a long list of reasons why no sane nation would attack the Sublime Grubmolian State, except in a very specific set of tight conditions, and then listing why not a single one of those conditions applies to the Nivenian Empire. The reasoning behind this was explained to be an attempt to convince the Sublime Grubmolian State that the Nivenians were not a threat to them, and by extension could be traded with safely, as the Grubmolians had previously given the Nivenian Empire a massive technological boost with cloning in a trade deal.
Soon after, Queen Sophram of the Null Empire, one of the Nivenian Empire's allies, advised the Platixi Empire to "stop antagonizing the [Sublime Grubmolian State]," and that "This isn't a fight worth fighting."
At the beginning of Dekemurios, 35 NE, the Nivenian Interest Protection Group's arguments were beginning to become quite prominent, even surpassing the Truth of Nivenia League (which was now dwindling) in followers. On Dekemurios 8, an important event happened which would considerably stunt the growth of the Nivenian Interest Protection Group - NP-L2-ASI01 delivered a historic speech addressing the Nivenian Interest Protection Group's theory, the highlight of which was the simple fact that even if the Nivenian Interest Protection Group was right, it would not actually matter. This point was due to the simple fact that even if all of the nations that the Nivenian Empire had met were really the New Cyrannian Republic, or some larger entity, their trades were honest and beneficial. In addition, if this hypothetical "Meta-Empire" really was all of the other contacted nations, they would surely be able to crush the Nivenian Empire as easily as swatting a fly. All of this goes to show that any entity of the required properties must also be non-hostile, negating any future threat under this theory. Thus, as the theory presented by the Nivenian Interest Protection Group cannot be proved or disproved, and would be beneficial both ways to assume that the theory is false, and it would be a horrible diplomatic catastrophe to assume that the theory is true in the case where it is not, then the only logical conclusion is to act as if the theory is false.
On Dekemurios 23, a secret conference was held by the Industrial Progress Party. The higher-ups of the party had decided that the Industrial Safety Party had to be removed from power as quickly as possible. When the Industrial Progress Party had run the government, set the status quo. Now that the Industrial Safety Party was in charge, and had been for over a year, they were beginning to set the new status quo, which meant that a coup now would be much easier from a coup later. After much debate, the leaders of the Industrial Progress Party decided to mount a military coup on the government on Nivenia Prime on Neochios 14.
On Dekemurios 48, MegaSuperUltraCorp discovered that a nation that the Nivenian Empire had had minor previous dealings with (unfortunately, in the form of a temporary boycott from the former Nivenian Trading Organization for Commercial Benefits) was apparently having food shortage problems, the Reformed Hegemony of Exterioris. As MegaSuperUltraCorp needed more land from the new ringworlds from the Megastructural Construction Corporation, and the Megastructural Construction Corporation needed more material for the construction of new ringworlds. Thus, the Megastructural Construction Corporation and MegaSuperUltraCorp developed a plan - get the Reformed Hegemony of Exterioris to buy food in exchange for materials, and then give the materials to the Megastructural Construction Corporation in exchange for land.
On Neochios 5, a series of massive vessels from the Nivenia System, launched almost two years before, arrived at the planet Thadus 0037 to colonize the planet and nearby space. Of the over twenty trillion colonists, only a little over two trillion were interested in settling the planet itself, with most wanting to create a massive habitat swarm using the material orbiting the planet in ts rings, and on its moon. Although this was a sizable transfer of population, their reports of the beautiful landscape of the artificial continents of Thadus 0037 were met with jealousy from inhabitants of several of the ice planets in the Nivenia System, setting in motion a grand series of events that would remake most of the Nivenia System.
On Neochios 14, the coup planned almost a month before by the Industrial Progress Party took effect. In under an hour, several tens of billions loyalists to the old regime stormed the Administrative District of Nivenia Prime, expelling bureaucrats and security forces alike. Although the loyalists almost made it through the bureaucratic offices and into the government's headquarters, security forces left unguarded were able to alert security inside the building containing the Chief Executive Coordinator and other high-ranking officials. These security forces managed to put up a shield around the building before the old regime loyalists could break through. A day later, Nivenian military ground forces arrived, and the loyalists were escorted to prison.
On Neochios 29, unfortunate news wracked the Nivenian Empire. Buford Lambert, one of the most influential politicians and businessmen on Nivenia Prime, had been diagnosed with a bacterial infection of the chest cavity, a disease that would be fatal in months. Lambert, 187 years old, had only lived as long as he did (average Nivenian life expectancy is around 106) due to extensive cybernetic replacement of most of his organs. While this was of course unfortunate on a personal level, the fact that Lambert had no heirs and was old enough for the descendants of his former family to have faded into ambiguity meant that there might very well be a power struggle over his holdings after his death.
Buford Lambert's holdings were vast, and not all even known to the state, hence the cause for alarm if he died heirless. By far the most visible of Lambert's holdings, and one of the oldest, was the Buford Lambert District of Nivenia Prime, one of the most populated districts, due to its emphasis on apartments and residential housing, and the fact that two of the planet's orbital rings intersected directly overhead. However, in addition to that were Lambert's shares in MegaSuperUltraCorp, not insignificant at 1.69% ownership, and Lambert's massive stockpile of bonds. In total, Lambert's known possessions amounted to roughly seventy Exacredits, making him one of the wealthiest individuals in the Nivenian Empire, and worth as much as almost a month of Nivenian GDP.
On Neochios 40, the Megastructural Construction Corporation finished the construction of the twenty massive habitats in a ring around Nivenia Prime that they had announced the construction of on Dekemurios 54, 29 NE. The habitats themselves were actively supported spherical shells fifty thousand kilometers wide, with an Ultimate Terraforming Lightbulb 1.0™ at full power at the center, and a hundred and ninety-seven billion square kilometers of area (planned to be covered in dense suburbs) inside over eight thousand McKendree cylinders using the light from the Ultimate Terraforming Lightbulb 1.0™ as their power source (described in detail in this news archive). Interestingly, as Nivenia Prime had so much waste heat being radiated at temperatures over 2000 K, the spheres used a massive ring around the planet covered in photovoltaic panels to power the lightbulbs, instead of the typical nuclear fusion reactors (although the reactors still made for excellent backup power sources.
On Ianuaria 4, 36 NE, the Reformed Hegemony of Exterioris got back to MegaSuperUltraCorp about the offer of enough food to feed seventy quadrillion in exchange for large amounts of unrefined carbon. Commander Marius of the Hegemony stated that the offer of "dietary tribute" was "much appreciated," and that they would "gift" MegaSuperUltraCorp the carbon requested (apparently another way of trading, just without the word "trade"). Interestingly, the carbon provided by the Hegemony was of higher quality than needed - something greatly appreciated by MegaSuperUltraCorp, which thanked the Hegemony.
On Ianuaria 16, the Waptoria Alliance of Species, a nation which the Nivenians slightly disliked due to political differences, congratulated the Phrovan Socialist Republic on their "relocation to the Milky Way galaxy," which most Nivenian still found absurd, and offered them territory in an area of space apparently named the Byzan Sector. The territory in question was apparently near some place called the Algolurn Popular Republic and another place called the Sovereign Republic of Gradesia, which was apparently a technocratic dictatorship like the Nivenian Empire, but apparently both states were also communist.
The special project that the Megastructural Construction Corporation started in Iunius, 30 NE was finally starting to pay off. Due to the war, a late start, and constant technical difficulties in design, it took until Ianuaria 30, 36 NE to get the actively-supported frame done, and to plan out the rest. Along the way, the design got changed as well, from a sphere with a radius of "almost a million kilometers" to a stationary actively-supported ring-like structure, to an annulus with an inner radius of a hundred and twenty thousand kilometers and an outer radius of three hundred thousand kilometers.
While this change decreased the total area for the growth of Loobo organisms, and thus purple spice, by a factor of around fifty, newer techniques for Loobo cultivation would lower the energy input per kilogram purple spice produced to only 5 GJ/kg, from 200 GJ/kg. This would allow the yield to more or less remain the same (calculated at 1.44 Teratons of purple spice per day), while decreasing the cost by a massive factor. Build time would remain the same, however, due to difficulties with procuring some specialty components in large enough quantities to construct the device, which was termed Spice Synthesizer 1.
A new timeline of the construction project (reflecting changes made to the design) was created as follows:
- Construct plexiglass panels and biodisk support structure - Ianuaria 31, 36 NE to Ianuaria 30, 37 NE
- Add lifeforms to device - Ianuaria 31, 37 NE to Ianuaria 30, 38 NE
At the end of Ianuaria, the Phrovan Socialist Republic settled in the Byzan sector, as per the previous offer of the Waptoria Alliance of Species. After the Waptoria Alliance of Species was queried as to whether the Byzan sector was near the JSector, the Waptoria Alliance of Species told them that "From the end of the Norma Arm inwards towards the galactic core, you've got the Byzan Sector, then the Katar Sector, then the Soloth Sector. The JSector is somewhere below that," which was noted as somewhat vague for a (presumably large enough to have a competent bureaucracy) major interstellar empire.
Martex 5 brought another massive scandal into the public eye - this time on the part of one of the highest-ranking admirals in the Nivenian Empire, who was caught seventy kilometers outside of his apartment, apparently in the process of declaring himself to be a god to all of his subordinates in the middle of the night, and in his underpants. When questioned, the admiral declared that he had heard about God-Emperor Ipliq of Spodia due to the cultural exchange program, and "decided to have a vision of Spode commanding him to become a God-Emperor himself." After promptly being sent to a mental institution on Nivenia Prime and being dishonorably discharged from the navy, this entire episode brought into question the cultural exchange with the Pure Divinity of Spodia that had been taking place for the previous five years.
In light of this, a public (to the members of the Board of Technology, which admittedly number in the trillions) conference on Nivenia Prime was held on Ianuaria 13 to discuss the matter. Although both the proponents and the opposition to ending the cultural exchange with the Pure Divinity of Spodia made good arguments, the conference was not able to make a decision, as any decision would need a 60% supermajority, with was currently not being attained by either side. However, on Ianuaria 19, a series of massive riots, mainly on Nivenia Prime, forced the conference to make a decision sooner rather than later, as it somehow turned out that the admiral who had declared himself a god had apparently amassed a following of over ten billion, who had broken him out of jail, only to vanish in the cities of Nivenia Prime.
UDB Archive 21 Starts
On Martex 20, something really, really crazy (from the perspective of almost all Nivenians) got posted on the Universal Discussion Board by a Dr. Nu'Iva Shal, someone who claimed to be a master of the "Mystic Arts," whatever that is supposed to mean. Dr. Shal also claimed to be the "foremost academic expert on the nature and history of the Abyss," which did not really make any sense either - how does one become an expert in immeasurably deep chasms anyway? Her message also made no sense, being of the form of a warning against using "... artifacts from the Abyss and or entities that have been tainted/infused by the Void itself." However, when closely examined, the message was found to be riddled with semi-insane holes.
Regarding this, NP-L2-ASI01 sent back a reply with a list of the apparent problems with Dr. Shal's message. First, and most obviously, was the question "What are 'Mystic Arts' supposed to be?" which was one being asked all over the Nivenian Empire. Second, many of the descriptions of "... artifacts from the Abyss and or entities that have been tainted/infused by the Void itself" made no sense either, either because they could very easily be fabricated, or because they were already signs of insanity, something that Dr. Shal said that they caused!
Several notable examples of this were found. "Black pyramids with white spheres encased within them" were one of the descriptions of artifacts that were apparently cursed, especially ones that were "cold to the touch," which lead to the very obvious possibility of fabrication. To prove this, NP-L2-ASI01 contracted with an interstellar merchant passing through the Nivenia System to deliver a crate with two hundred such pyramids, fabricated from materials with extremely high thermal conductivities to make them cold to the touch, to Dr. Shal. Also noted to be cursed were "objects that appear to bend the space around them," which, as NP-L2-ASI01 noted, was a surprisingly broad definition, meaning that black holes, neutrons stars, and spacetime engineering research would also apparently be cursed (not to mention everything that bends spacetime around it only a little, and not enough to be noticed visually, namely the entire universe). "inanimate objects that speak to you via telepathy and try to convince you to pray/serve to one of the various entities associated with the Abyss/Void" were also mentioned, which seemed extremely odd, given as how these are signs of auditory hallucination, which is a strong indicator of Schizophrenia. Even worse, Dr. Shal recommended what was essentially an exorcism to anyone hearing these noises, which was also odd, given that a mental hospital would seem the better choice to sane people.
To summarize the previously discussed findings, NP-L2-ASI01 sent a reply back to Dr. Shal discussing the issues with her message, and sent two hundred fabricated artifacts to her as well to prove how easy fabrication of the artifacts described was.
On Iunius 7, someone named Overlord representing an unknown nation calling themselves the Void Eye Empire commented to NP-L2-ASI01 that the void pyramids were more than a kilometer tall, meaning that NP-L2-ASI01's fake ones, at 10 cm, were four orders of magnitude off on size. However, the proportions and the "cold to the touch" things were right. NP-L2-ASI01 admitted its mistake, and filed away the new information. However, a long chain of events was about to begin which would cause a massive problem for everyone both for and against the Void.
Unfortunately, Buford Lambert finally died on Iunius 23, 36 NE. His death immediately sparked the creation of the Buford Lambert foundation, which now held all of his assets until an heir had been found. Unfortunately, Lambert's will appeared to leave this deliberately vague, stating that "assets of which there are more than one shall be set into a foundation dedicated to their continued existence and functioning," which could mean anything. After several days of sorting through his will, three major claimants rose to the surface. The Nivenian Regional government of the Buford Lambert District of Nivenia Prime was one of the first claimants, stating that Lambert's property should be given to them because Lambert had lead them for over a century (an argument that most agreed makes no sense). Avery Harris, the Chief Financial Officer of MegaSuperUltraCorp (and before the merger that led to MegaSuperUltraCorp, one of the largest of its precursors) since 14 BNE also stepped up, claiming to be Lambert's illegitimate son, because Lambert had consistently voted for him (an argument that most also agreed makes no sense). The third claimant was, interestingly, NP-L2-ASI01, who said that it was the most capable to put Lambert's assets to good use (an argument that most agreed was extremely shaky).
By Iunius 29, it became clear that no one with a better claim had turned up to collect Lambert's estate. As there was no way of verifying Harris' claim, except via investigation (and the other two claims were simply absurd), an investigation into Harris' past was conducted. Harris was found to have been born to a single mother in 41 BNE, with his story initially checking out. However, the fact that Lambert was already over a hundred years old at Harris' supposed birth date was slightly problematic. After further investigation, it was found that for roughly two years before Harris had been born, Harris' mother had been in a secretarial position directly under Lambert at his firm. Interestingly enough, Harris had apparently been receiving large sums of money for the first thirty years of his life, apparently up until his securing of the Chief Financial Officer position at one of the largest precursors to MegaSuperUltraCorp, which, interestingly enough, delivered food to the Buford Lambert District of Nivenia Prime. It is likely that Lambert forced the company to appoint Harris as Chief Financial Officer through a series of shady backroom deals with the higher-ups of the company.
After a lengthy process of appeals, Harris finally was given Lambert's estate on Iunius 51. Harris, knowing that unlike the first century BNE, when Nivenia Prime's property values rose dramatically due to raising the temperature on the radiators, Nivenia Prime's real estate would not continue to grow. So, instead of doing the same thing Lambert did and slowly investing the proceeds from the Buford Lambert District of Nivenia Prime, Harris sold the district to other private interests (totaling forty Exacredits in proceeds), and decided to re-invest most of the money in other businesses, like the Megastructural Construction Corporation, which was likely to continue to grow exponentially with the Nivenian Empire.
After the resounding success of newer terraforming methods in the terraforming of Thadus 0037 several years earlier, the planetary governments of several other similar ice-covered planets in the Nivenian Empire started to realize that they could dramatically increase their population (and thus, their tax base), if they terraformed to T3 (with an Ultimate Terraforming Lightbulb 1.0™), began importing most of their food, and then became Medium-density Ecumenopoli with populations almost an order of magnitude higher.
Nivenia A12 was one of the first to implement this new "radical terraforming and urbanization" policy, as it was called by the planetary government. On Novemex 19, they declared that the planet would be terraformed to T3 over the next year and a half, complete with the installation of massive artificial continents and larger gigacities. Along with this, a resolution was being passed on the planetary level that would illegalize hydroponic farming of "non-luxury" food items on the surface of A12 as a second-class misdemeanor, to encourage imports from the inner system. As there was already an Ultimate Terraforming Lightbulb 1.0™ in the vicinity (near the ecumenopolis Nivenia A12.1, at the Lagrange point of it and Nivenia A12), another would not be needed for the terraforming process making it substantially easier.
A timeline of the terraforming project was created as follows:
- Terraform to T1 - Novemex 35, 36 NE to Ianuaria 34, 37 NE
- Terraform to T2 - Ianuaria 35, 37 NE to Novemex 34, 37 NE
- Terraform to T3 - Novemex 35, 37 NE to Ianuaria 34, 38 NE
On Novemex 30, the Void Eye Empire got back to Harris, stating that "Originally I would say this were a state secret, but on a second thought regarding the current situation..." the pyramids were one kilometer by one kilometer at the base, and two kilometers high. Harris took that information and founded a new business using three Exacredits of the Lambert fortune: Harris Artifacts. The premise behind Harris Artifacts was to take advantage of two situations - the first being a rapidly growing fad in the Nivenian Empire for black pyramids of those proportions (though usually on a different scale), and the second being a distinct lack of fake pyramid manufacturers in the wider Gigaquadrant.
Dr. Nul'va Shal then responded to the Void Eye Empire on Novemex 34, saying that although she had "concerns regarding any pyramids or other artifacts you may have in your possession," she acknowledged that the Void Eyes were adept in the use of void energy, and that they were aware of "the dangers," however non-specific and nebulous they might be. She then stated that she would not go on a crusade against them (well, most in the Nivenian Empire hoped not - crusades are insane and expensive), but asked that they be careful in their "worship."
On Novemex 52, Dr. Shal responded to NP-L2-ASI01's complaints and questions, stating first that she found the fabricated pyramids a humorous gift, but not to send any more, and that to prevent large numbers of wackos from constantly sending these, she had started getting her mail inspected for fraudulent artifacts. Then, she presented her explanations to NP-L2-ASI01's questions. Some answers were spot-on, and explained well, however others either comically missed the point of the question or were simply not useful.
First, she essentially made the argument that the "mystic arts" were actually just "a sacred method of harnessing and applying the innate magic that my people are born with," which sounded a lot like just dodging the question. Second, she stated that if NP-L2-ASI01 saw materials used in void/abyss artifacts every day (as NP-L2-ASI01 mentioned that artifacts that fit the descriptions given could be made form everyday materials), it was most likely that it was either insane or "an entity is trying really hard to contact you."
Dr. Shal then noted that the artifacts (pyramids, etc.) typically resulted in anomalous sensor data that could not easily be replicated, and that creating fabrications would not allow access to void or abyss beings, and would be a "waste of resources." She then stated that no, neutron stars, black holes, and spacetime research are not cursed. On the topic of hearing voices, Dr. Shal stated that Abyssal Entities, while they could cause insanity, were "not explicitly associated with Schizophrenia," and that her methods of removing Void or Abyssal entities were more advanced than an exorcism, but could not be preformed in a traditional mental hospital, missing the point of the question again.
Dr. Shal concluded by assuring NP-L2-ASI01 that the artifacts and entities in question were real, and were apparently common and well-documented in the Mirus Galaxy and the Tyris Major Galaxy, ending her statement by noting that "Your skepticism, while healthy, is grounded in the fortunate fact that your people have not encountered the Void or Abyss in any capacity yet."
NP-L2-ASI01 responded to Dr. Shal on Dekemurios 3, first noting that many questions were still unanswered, most notably that she explained the word "mystic" by saying that it was "magic." As the two words were synonyms, NP-L2-ASI01 noted that it was not informative. As Dr. Shal implied that it might have been a state secret with her vagueness, NP-L2-ASI01 decided to be blunt by stating "I meant more along the lines of either what its properties were, or a brief description of how it works (e.g. nanotech, quantum impellers, artificial spacial dipole fields, etc.). If this is a state secret, just say so, and I will stop asking." NP-L2-ASI01 also clarified that it was simply stating materials that could be used to fabricate the devices, not actually construct them. As for the forgery problem, NP-L2-ASI01 clarified that it just thought that there would be at least as many fradulent artifacts as real ones due to scams and market forces. As for the auditory hallucinations, NP-L2-ASI01 noted that "I meant that there might be a causation issue, as I would expect Schizophrenia --> Auditory hallucinations to be a simpler explanation than Auditory hallucinations = Spirits --> Insanity for why people with auditory hallucinations tend to be insane, and thus more plausible via Occam's razor," also noting that if this explanation was correct, then people with auditory hallucinations would be better cared for in conventional mental hospitals.
In conclusion, NP-L2-ASI01 stated that from its perspective, it seemed more likely that Dr. Shal was crazy than right, and that although Dr. Shal "least tried to give an explanation, and [seemed] otherwise a reasonable and well-adjusted individual," that NP-L2-ASI01 would not believe it unless there was an actual theoretical model that matched current predictions. NP-L2-ASI01 specifically stated that it had no personal dislike for Dr. Shal, just found her beliefs unlikely during the given statement.
On Dekemurios 23, President Sifkrii Domanov of the Phrovan Socialist Republic contacted Dr. Nu'lva Shal about whether their "Augment Crystals could be considered void or abyssal relics by Dr. Shal (the Phrovan Socialist Republic provided some preliminary information about the crystals), even though they did not fit most of the criteria. Dr. Shal responded several days later, saying that while the crystals were "certainly interesting to say the least," and appeared to be "supernatural" (whatever that means) in origin, they did not appear to be form the void or abyss.
On Dekemurios 42, VoidMaster JGrox contacted Dr. Shal about the possibility of sharing some knowledge about the void with Dr. Shal, as the Void Shamen were not proper void users (whatever that meant) like "Void Zealots," whatever those were. JGrox then summarized the Void Shaman philosophy, "to harmonize the Void through study, meditation, tolerance and understanding," and noting that they had an entire Void JLibrary filled with information about the void, and that they would be happy to teach and learn.
The rest of the month was relatively uneventful.
On Neochios 6, Dr. Nu'lva Shal finally gave a list of clear answers (with references) to NP-L2-ASI01's questions. She explained that the "magic" referenced before was an extension of something called "essence," which had been extensively studied. She then clarified that Boron Arsenide was not cursed, and gave several references to answer some of NP-L2-ASI01's questions, and some history of the void and abyssal artifacts. However, she commented that much of the information given was learned thousands to millions of years ago, and inquired as to why NP-L2-ASI01 was so skeptical of it.
NP-L2-ASI01 reviewed the data and sources provided, and responded a few days later by thanking Dr. Shal for her assistance, and stating that it had developed an adequate model of "essence" as a scientific theory using the references and history provided, and would be testing that theory soon. It then stated that as the Nivenian Empire had only been in contact with the wider Gigaquadrant for less than two decades, they did not know about the information that had been discovered thousands to millions of years earlier, and had never encountered void energy, the abyss, or essence before. As the Nivenian Empire was still skeptical of the Gigaquadrant existing (as there were mainstream political factions that believed that the Gigaquadrant was a hoax perpetuated by the Nivenian Government, extreme skepticism was a required trait as its representative.
By Neochios 25, Harris Artifacts Incorporated was beginning to get a solid footing. After building a massive factory in high orbit of Nivenia A11, capable of producing fraudulent void pyramids of all sizes, from 10 cm x 10 cm x 20 cm to 1 km x 1 km x 2 km, Harris Artifacts Incorporated began selling them, with the largest ones going for around ten Gigacredits each (and costing only one Gigacredit to build). While the Boron Arsenide coating was expensive, Harris figured out that the coating only had to be a few centimeters thick, and, barring an aluminum support structure, the pyramid could be made mostly hollow to cur down on building costs. These pyramids were on the market by Neochios 29.
Harris Artifacts Incorporated was immediately a huge success. Somehow, over seven thousand real-size fraudulent artifacts were sold over the first two weeks, mostly to rich Nivenians who wanted to make a statement. However, this was nothing compared to international sales, and sales of smaller objects. Artifacts ten thousand times smaller, and costing only a few hundred credits, it turned out, were a huge hit among upper-middle class Nivenians, with over four quadrillion being sold by the end of the month, bringing in an entire Exacredit. Interestingly enough, the limits on the sales of these fraudulent artifacts seemed to be more limited by production rates than anything else.
With Nivenia A12 undergoing their terraforming process, and Thadus 0037 having completed it, Nivenia A11 and Nivenia B4 decided to follow suit by terraforming to T3 and increasing population density in an effort to try to become more valuable. Unlike Thadus 0037 and Nivenia A12, however, these two planets decided that to try and raise population capacity even further, they would create massive orbital infrastructure projects, designed to support more population. Notably, Nivenia A11 and Nivenia B4 did their terraforming projects in a combined effort, allowing them to purchase larger amounts of resources.
A timeline of the terraforming project was created as follows:
- Terraform to T1 - Neochios 48, 36 NE to Iunius 47, 37 NE
- Terraform to T2 - Iunius 48, 37 NE to Neochios 47, 37 NE
- Terraform to T3 - Neochios 47, 36 NE to Iunius 47, 38 NE
- Install orbital infrastructure - Iunius 48, 38 NE to Neochios 47, 38 NE
At the start of 37 NE, the Nivenian Market was beginning to wane for Harris Artifacts Incorporated, as most Nivenians who wanted a fake void pyramid had one by now. However, Harris Artifacts Incorporated began to find a less legal, but possibly more lucrative method to sell their goods - sell them to shady independent traders. Over the last few years (after the Third Nivenian War of Re-Unification), the Nivenia System had become somewhat of a small hub for trade in the Coru Secondus region of the Cyrannus Galaxy due to large-scale Nivenian Exports. This meant that large numbers of independent traders, not all of them honest, routinely passed through the Nivenian Empire on trading missions. Harris Artifacts Incorporated took advantage of this, by selling fraudulent void relics to independent traders for marked-up prices, with the independent traders then traveling far and wide to pass off the fake void pyramids as real void pyramids, and extracting extremely large sums of money from customers. While this income source was more of a trickle that a stampede, over a hundred Petacredits per month, and millions of full-scale pyramid sales, could be counted on. Given that the initial investments in Harris Artifacts Incorporated were only three Exacredits, and provided over fifteen trillion jobs, this made the business a huge success.
This also had the side effect of flooding the Gigaquadrant with millions of full-size fraudulent Void artifacts rather quickly, and trillions of miniatures. As most of these could pass a cursory inspection - to almost all species they were cold to the touch, a fact determined by both the choice of materials (Boron Arsenide has a high thermal conductivity) and the second law of thermodynamics (any creature that uses energy must be warmer than its surroundings to be in thermodynamic equilibrium). Among other things, the prices of Boron and Arsenic slowly doubled over the next month, due to the continued manufacture, leading to a corresponding increase in price. While sales dropped by a factor of two, profits remained the same, limiting the influx of fraudulent void artifacts into the Gigaquadrant.
Interestingly enough, "Overlord" of the Void Eye Empire even ordered a large amount of full sized-pyramids to "decorate" their homeworld, as they assumed that the reason why Avery Harris asked for the dimensions of the void pyramids was because he wanted to produce and sell replicas (this was of course true). Harris Artifacts Incorporated obviously agreed, telling the Void Eye Empire about their production facility in orbit of Nivenia A11. The Void Eye Empire proceeded to buy a large number of the pyramids, making massive profits for Harris Artifacts Incorporated.
By the first of Martex, it was obvious that something fishy was afoot. Due to burglary, the large number of families with miniature fake void pyramids, and Dr. Shal's message to send void artifacts (or which the fraudulent ones match he basic description) to her, the quadrillions of households with the fake artifacts were having hundreds of billions of burglaries per month, of which tens of millions of the burglars would then sent the fake artifact to Dr. Shal via mail by independent trader (those with FTL ships who nevertheless trade frequently in the Nivenia System).
NP-L2-ASI01 then sent a transmission to Dr. Shal about the situation, and luckily the message was received before the massive wave of insane packages arrived. Dr. Shal sent a response, to both that message and the one before it, a few days later, stating that the packages were starting to arrive, and that "the inspectors have been very displeased with the amount of fake pyramids we have been receiving." On a more serious note, she then realized why NP-L2-ASI01 had to be so skeptical, and mentioned a similar experience in her own background. She also mentioned that NP-L2-ASI01 was probably a lot more proficient than her in the field of mathematics, as her specialties were archeology and medicine, and expressed an interest in working with NP-L2-ASI01 about the problems in the future. She also mentioned that, regarding Avery Harris and his corporation, "while I admire a man of good business sense, he should be cautious," mentioning that some nations and entities might declare war on Harris Artifacts Incorporated or their customers, thinking that his stock is really actual void artifacts.
Dr. Shal also got back to JGrox and the Void Shamanists, saying that while she found their goals or taming the void and using it for good admirable, she said that she found them optimistic at best, as "From my experience trying to harmonize the Abyss would be a very tall order. Even more so for the Void, since as far as I can tell is ruled by an entity of immeasurable power that wishes to erase all of us from existence." However, she expressed interest in the Void JLibrary being kept by the JGrox Void Shamanists, and mentioned the possibility of an information exchange.
The JGrox then responded by comparing their own attempt at subjugating the void to the fall and partial reformation of the old Grox Empire - while the task looked impossible, it was not, and was achieved through hard work and dedication, like how the JGrox separated from the Grox and changed to be Shamen. Voidmaster JGrox concluded that an exchange between Dr. Shal's and their own archives would be wonderful, and invited Dr. Shal to a reception on the JGrox homeworld. However, most Nivenians were skeptical of this, given how the reception on the JOmnivore homeworld a few years before went.
Interestingly, the Platixi Empire, even though they had apparently never heard of the void before, claimed that due to their "philosophy" of psychology, they possessed "[minds] strong enough to resist its corruption," which did not even make any sense on face value (How can minds be strong?). They then advised other nations in the Gigaquadrant to summon them in the event of coming across a void or abyssal relic, saying that "We have learned many ways to control our minds and might just stand a chance against it."
The Pure Divinity of Spodia sent a response transmission back to the Platixi, with Ipliq saying that the Platixi's overconfidence in their abilities to control the void would be their downfall, and that they would be manipulated by the void in the end. The Platixi responded, saying that they had never encountered anything like this before, and due to this it was not absolutely certain that they could control it. Dr. Shal then responded to both messages, thanking Ipliq for "informing everyone of dangers of the Void," and saying that "I had to use most of my mystical knowledge to create talismans and hexes to mitigate the effects of the Abyss, but I'm certain that if a powerful enough entity wanted me as their thrall, they could have certainly done so at any time I was in the Abyss." As for the Platixi, she said that "fighting the Void itself would be a fruitless endeavor." She also expressed interest in another suggestion of the Pure Divinity of Spodia, the "purification of the void," saying that while she did not think that purifying the void was likely to succeed, she had some ideas for experiments to help check.
Interestingly enough, Voidmaster JGrox and Puremaster JHerbivore kind of freaked out when they heard the idea of combining the purity and the void (due to these "essences" being "entirely different," in the words of Voidmaster JGrox), but eventually decided to meet in person and discuss the matter at the Void JLibrary. It was unknown whether they would come to a conclusion, and whether that conclusion would be the successful purification of the void, the destruction of the pure energy in favor of void (as Dr. Shal claimed would happen, or something else entirely.
On Iunius 41, it was decided by the Nivenian Government to order a new line of ships from MegaSuperUltraCorp, which had subsumed Nivenia Defensive Systems during the Third Nivenian War of Reunification. The Nivenian Navy had noticed a distinct lack of Mobile Shipyard Facilities, problematic as Mobile Shipyard Facilities can be extremely useful, both tactically, in battle, and also from a strategic point of view. To remedy this situation, they contacted MegaSuperUltraCorp, and ordered the construction of tens of thousands of these shipyard facilities.
In addition they requested several other types of support ships, with multiple size ranges of each type to fulfill multiple needs. With the Nivenian Empire extending its reach to multiple star systems, supply chains and replacement parts can no longer be manufactured by planetside facilities, something many commanders learned the hard way during the Nivenian-Thadian War of Annexation, and even was a factor during the Third Nivenian War of Reunification. To this end, Mobile Munitions Plant and Mobile Mining Platforms were also ordered, to act as a supply chain and support for potential years-long, interstellar campaigns in the future.
Another request made was the potential overhauling of the shipyard facilities at Nivenia B3. While Nivenia B3's shipyards span several orbital rings, each kilometers across, and can construct millions of ships per month, the time that it would take to recharge the Nivenian Navy had been more dependent on the number of shipyards than anything else for centuries. With the increased frequency and strength of wars, and the number of new enemies in this new age of extranivenian life, more effort had to be put into maintaining an active military. This was sent to MegaSuperUltraCorp, with the threat of finding other suppliers in MegaSuperUltraCorp did not cooperate.
MegaSuperUltraCorp responded on Iunius 54, after much consideration. They said that while increased shipyard production (potentially enough to replenish the entire Nivenian Navy in as little as two and a half years) was possible, it would take them a full year to augment their existing orbital rings with new technology, and another six months of preliminary third-party research on shipbuilding before the construction could even get started, proposing the following timeline:
- Third-party research: Mega-Shipyards - Novemex 3, 37 NE to Ianuaria 2, 38 NE
- Shipyard construction around Nivenia B3 - Ianuaria 3, 38 NE to Ianuaria 2, 39 NE
At the beginning of Novemex, 37 NE, Ipliq of the Pure Divinity of Spodia announced to the Gigaquadrant his interest in the formation of a "Pan-Spodist organization" to eventually unite all the Spodist nations of the Gigaquadrant under one banner. Ipliq called for the immediate formation of a "non-militaristic, non-aligned religious bloc" as a preliminary step, inviting Spodist nations of all denominations, and claimed that that new organization would "seek unification" into a single "Pan-Spodist" nation.
Within a week, this caused some serious commotion. The Purity came out strongly in favor of this, although they were not a Spodist nation and presumably would not join. Puremaster JHerbivore mentioned that the JGrox used to be Spodists, but they reformed and were unlikely to return to Spodism. Most interestingly of all was the response from the Waptoria Alliance of Species, which stated that this idea, and the organization from it, apparently already existed in the form of something called the Uniate League, prompting the Pure Divinity of Spodia to apply for membership, though "our goals are much grander than the Uniate League."
On Novemex 30, the Admiral who had declared himself a god on Martex 5 of the previous year resurfaced, now with 17 billion followers on Nivenia Prime. The group mainly began starting riots, destroying power stations, and just preforming generally disruptive activities. While the police on Nivenia Prime were set with the case, the zealots and their leader (who had now declared himself the "true prophet of Spode," likely to gain popular support) had apparently trained in Nivenian military tactics, a fact which was not surprising given their leader's previous occupation.
This lead to a massive humiliation of Nivenia Prime planetary police forces, and after two weeks of semi-random chaos, a new strategy was devised. Instead of attempting to catch and arrest zealots while they were in the process of perpetrating a crime, Nivenia Prime police decided to plant trackers on the zealots and see if a large number of the trackers (preferably from zealots spotted on different parts of the planet) ever arrived at the same location, and then shut down transportation and gas the area with carbon dioxide to knock everyone out. The zealots would be arrested afterward.
While this began to work, and a meeting point was found on Novemex 48 where 85% of the over twenty million trackers conglomerated at once, the location caused an even greater scandal that the one on the previous year - the COO of MegaSuperUltraCorp was holding the meetings in some sort of a secret bunker seven kilometers below the accepted floor of the city in her area (this was a violation of the Nivenia Prime building code, as digging secret bunkers under the floor of the city costs heat energy and generates waste heat, which is the arch-enemy of Ecumenopoli), and was apparently posing as Spode, a fact that shocked many of the Spodists in the entire Nivenian Empire.
What followed was a massive uptick in the murder rate, terroristic action all over the Nivenia System, and criticism of MegaSuperUltraCorp, which was greatly publicized by Nivenia News 5 (a subsidiary of the Megastructural Construction Corporation, bought during the depression of the early-to-mid twenties). The Spodists of the Nivenia System had split roughly equally between the ones who were shocked that the COO of MegaSuperUltraCorp had claimed something so blasphemous, and immediately swore vengeance, and the ones who shocked that the COO of MegaSuperUltraCorp was actually Spode, and immediately swore their undying loyalty.
On Dekemurios 8, a transmission from an entity called the Perfect Unity of the Maker's Shadow sent a transmission via the Universal Discussion Board, at first in a language unknown to the translators. However, with the help of some detailed codes from the entity in question, the programs used were updated within a day. This quick response semi-cemented the Nivenian Empire's newer role in the development and manufacture of Universal Translator software, as the Nivenians were the first nation to react and add this new language to their protocols. The Maker's Shadow, a hive mind entity from the Mirus Galaxy, had sent a transmission stating that their goal was "to further the sciences and gain knowledge of all things and concepts," and that they wanted to "initiate cooperation" with other nations. They then stated that they had "wares" to trade with other nations, and that they wanted knowledge of space outside their borders, as well as "other topics." This was largely seen as a good business opportunity, as "wares," whatever they might be, would probably be useful in some capacity, and more trading partners would help stabilize further the Nivenian trading network.
By Dekemurios 17, the situation with the denominational breakup of the Spodist religion was starting to get out of hand. Andrea Perry, the COO of MegaSuperUltraCorp who had claimed to be Spode, had been fired at the beginning of Dekemurios due to the bad reputation that she was giving MegaSuperUltraCorp as a whole, but she was now a multi-quadrillionaire from the massive amount of donations from the new Spodist denomination of "Perryism," which had by now declared a "holy war" on all other Spodists. Needless to say, MegaSuperUltraCorp was happy to sell weapons to both them and the more conventional Spodists fighting against them.
While neither the Nivenian Imperial Government nor any of the large corporations and regional governments took sides on the matter, both sides tended toward guerilla warfare, with assassinations, homemade bombs exploding, coercion of civilians to force the provision of supplies, and gunfights in out-of-the-way alleys being common. The war ended up being fought three ways: The traditional Spodists and the Perryists hated each other with a vengeance, and fought each other accordingly, but the security forces in whatever facilities and habitats they were fighting in did not particularly like vengeful groups of zealots either, and typically would fight back against both sides. Although a smaller habitat or city might take sides for short periods or time, the higher echelons of the government would always force them to renounce their support in a short time.
By Dekemurios 42, the situation was beginning to get completely out of control, with quadrillions at least nominally involved, trillions fighting, and billions dying every day. While the Nivenian security forces had managed to get things under control enough for society to keep running, it was hard to get the number of active combatants below a hundred trillion - with eighty quadrillion Spodists, the number of crazy zealots was sure to be high. Worse still, most of those captured from active combat situations tended to rather kill themselves than be caught, arrested, and interrogated. Even crazier, the combatants that could be interrogated all seemed to think that the headquarters of both factions were on Nivenia Prime!
This was a serious problem. Unlike the ringworlds, for instance, Nivenia Prime was cramped. It was three-dimensional. It had billions of civilians around every corner. And thus, it would be extremely difficult to root out the meeting places. The Nivenian Imperial Government decided to implement a three-step plan on Dekemurios 53. First, they closed off all entrances and exits within a five-kilometer radius (three-dimensionally) around each of the locations. Second, they pumped the whole area around both locations full of sleeping gas. Third, as a "preventative measure," everyone caught inside the quarantined zone was arrested, with a plan to sort out who was who in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, Perry was not found anywhere near the headquarters of the Perryists.
On Neochios 3, Intergalactic Traveler JBot of the JCompany Tourism JDivision and Cyber JDivision also responded to the message from the Maker's Shadow, mentioned that "a new JTrade Route is always interesting for JCompany," mentioning that the Maker's Shadow was not too far from their normal trade routes, and recommending the Maker's Shadow to their JEmporiums. Unfortunately, the Maker's Shadow had not responded to either of the messages, so it was unclear what was going on inside their empire. However, it was lucky that the zealous disruption from the Spodists and Perryists had not been doing too much damage to Nivenian trade routes.
On Neochios 15, the Maker's Shadow responded, making very similar offers of bulk minerals to both the Nivenian Empire and JCompany in exchange for sensor data. As the Nivenian Imperial Government had already sent the Maker's Shadow their sensor data as a courtesy, and the Megastructural Construction Corporation was the entity that really needed the minerals, the Megastructural Construction Corporation offered other technological data in exchange for the minerals, asking in what research field the Maker's Shadow wanted data and technology from the most. The Maker's Shadow got back to the Megastructural Construction Corporation almost immediately, saying that they mainly wanted biological data, such as "the physiology of certain alien races" and "technology pertaining to the modification of habitats and the upholding of lifeforms in dangerous areas." The Megastructural Construction Corporation responded by offering to send them the designs for modular O'Neill cylinders (habitats build to withstand the vacuum of space should be valuable), and the known information about Nivenian physiology.
The Maker's Shadow responded on Neochios 22, saying that they would find the physiology data useful, but that they did not know what an O'Neill cylinder was. A few days later, the Megastructural Construction Corporation responded with a transmission on Nivenian physiology, noting the focus on neurology present in the data as being a result of the Nivenian Empire's focus on that field. The Megastructural Construction Corporation also described O'Neill cylinders, and suggested that they transmit the designs for one of the best-selling designs to the Maker's Shadow. The Maker's Shadow responded by noting that the Nivenian physiological data would be useful, and requesting the designs of the O'Neill cylinders specified, saying that the Cylinders were "intriguing." The Megastructural Construction Corporation then transmitted the data about the O'Neill cylinders to the Maker's Shadow. Soon afterwards, roughly 3 octillion kilograms of material from the planet that was disassembled (mainly iron, aluminum, and carbon) were delivered to the Megastructural Construction Corporation, substantially adding to their stockpile of materials for further megastructural construction.
Regarding the situation at Nivenia Prime with the raiding of the Spodist and Perryist headquarters, over five billion Nivenians were arrested, and over three and a half billion of those arrested were found by the courts to be guilty of terrorism. While violence caused by the holy war decreased substantially on Nivenia Prime following the arrests, the war continued full-blast in the rest of the empire since both the Spodists and the Perryists were relatively disorganized in their methods, and the cells on Nivenia Prime did not serve as much more than spiritual leadership. Without them, regional leaders quickly pickup up the slack.
On Ianuaria 1, 38 NE, the Republic of Paulo Fluctus Beta and the Caeruleo Governmental Holding corporation finished their colonizing procedures, producing 200 trillion and 850 trillion clones each, respectively. This was a great boon to the economies of both systems, in addition to the constant influx of addition colonists from the Nivenia System, and allowed major growth of the mining industry and the terraforming and occupation of more planets in both systems. While MegauperUltraCorp tried to fine both entities for "use of their technology," their claims were largely disregarded.
On Ianuaria 2, 38 NE, MegaSuperUltraCorp finished research on a new line of ships for the Nivenian Empire: Mobile Shipyard Facilities. Three types were developed, each set to preform a different role. These Mobile Shipyard Facilities would allow the Nivenian Empire's Navy to be relatively self-sufficient and make new ships during protracted interstellar warfare - a necessity in order utilize power effectively at distances that require years to get to. The types of Mobile Shipyard Facilities designed were made to be used in both strategic and tactical roles, and be supplied with metallic raw materials (no just raw hydrogen gas, meaning that they could not construct ships while moving at high velocities.
The three types of Mobile Shipyard Facilities were designed for different roles, and some of them were limited in the types of ship that they could produce. The A-type Mobile Shipyard Facility was the largest designed, capable of making all main Nivenian military ships, from corvettes to titans, and having crew numbers in the billions. The B-type Mobile Shipyard Facility was the next-largest, incapable of building titans, but capable of building everything smaller. Both the A-type Mobile Shipyard Facility and the B-type Mobile Shipyard Facility were designed for strategic use off of the battlefield. The final type of Mobile Shipyard Facility, the A-type Mobile Shipyard Facility, was designed for tactical use, and could only make corvettes. However, its efficiency when manufacturing thousands of the same ship every month was unparalleled.
On Ianuaria 30, 38 NE, the special project that the Megastructural Construction Corporation started in Iunius, 30 NE was finally complete. With an outer diamter of six hundred thousand kilometers, this gargantuan structure had finally been filled with an aqueous solution compatible with the Loobo organism that it used, had been filled with slowly growing Loobo organisms and slowly cycled through filters to add nutrients and remove spice, and had finally been turned on. Now producing 1.44 trillion metric tons of purple spice per day, this structure would provide the Nivenian Empire at large (but especially the Megastructural Construction Corporation) with a resource highly-sought-after by international actors.
An interesting problem almost immediately arose, as the A6 Planet Swarm immediately declared the the object violated numerous "safety guidelines" that did not exist before, and declared that with the object's supposed violations of the law, it would need to be seized by the A6 planet swarm as government property. This, of course, was not appreciated by the Megastructural Construction Corporation, which declared the planet swarm's claims "presumptuous and rude," and appealed to the Nivenian Imperial Government, which handily took its side.
What followed was perhaps the craziest political disaster in years - the A6 Planet Swarm's government deployed security forces to try and take the megastructure as quickly as possible, before Nivenian Imperial reinforcements could arrive. This led to a seven-hour battle between the security forces of the A6 Planet Swarm and the security forces of the Megastructural Construction Corporation. The Megastructural Construction Corporation had actually predicted this incident by sending spies into the A6 Planet Swarm's government, and had accordingly hid several thousand corporate battleships inside the structure. The A6 Planet Swarm was defeated, and then sued for damages. It would face serious political repercussions after the cases went through the court system.
On Martex 1, 38 NE, research was finished on the next level of cybernetic enhancement. Before, mental augmentations had been the limiting factor in cybernetics, even physical cybernetics, with control usually being the limiting factor due to a lack of good sensor equipment. However, by developing better sensor equipment, cybernetics researchers were able to make the process less taxing on computer systems and the brain, allowing users to interact with physical augmentation as if they were a natural part of the user's body.
However, where the technology really shined through was in the field of mental cybernetic enhancement. The better sensor data allowed for much denser information transfer to take place, often without need of conscious thought. The relatively basic mental augmentations used before for computation required conscious thought to work, which had a history of increasing stress levels, a problem not present with the new technology. In addition, as more abstract concepts could be transferred, data that otherwise would take up megabytes could be cleanly and efficiently compressed by including the neurosignatures of abstract concepts that the brain could use to reconstruct the data easily.
Another massive improvement in quality was conducted in data searching algorithms, specifically memory recall, one of the key features of any advanced mental cybernetic augmentation system. Newer data searching algorithms would drastically increase the effectiveness of the recall of even natural memories, as recalling the memory could be used to create a three-dimensional low-resolution color map that was almost identical in nature to the original memory, not to mention facts and data only stored on the augmentation device. Thus, augmentations would now be able to help in memory recall, dramatically speeding up thought in general by over 75% in most circumstances.
On Martex 35, Intergalactic Traveler JBot of the JCompany Tourism JDivision and Cyber JDivision responded to the Maker's Shadow's offer of minerals in exchange for research to "confirm known theories," and interstellar navigational and survey data. JBot further commented that "I managed to close a deal while the other JShareholders are out," seeming interestingly impressed with himself, and possibly inferring that the JCompany Tourism JDivision and Cyber JDivision are some of the lower-throughput JDivisions of JCompany.
On Martex 44, the Platixi Empire also responded to the Maker's Shadow, saying that they were very similar empires, and that they would like to trade, mentioning their knowledge in psychology and biology as potentially valuable, and also offering "info on other empire," presumably meaning espionage data. This, of course, greatly upset a lot of nivenians, especially with the recent uptick in terrorism. The question "do they have data on us" became replaced with the question "how deeply are they conspiring with the terrorists to get the information they have on us," due to paranoia regarding the low-intensity, but constant terrorism.
About two weeks later, the uptick in paranoia and the terrorism in general were beginning to impact the economy, as many Nivenians took it upon themselves to become self-sufficient, which unfortunately emitted vastly more waste heat than conventional interdependent lifestyles. A side effect of this, in addition to the frequent blackouts all over the empire to prevent unnecessary power usage, was a dramatic, fast fall in Nivenian stock prices, largely marking the end of the post-war boom in the economy. It was fitting that the boom created by the defeat of a group of insurgents largely fell at the hands of another.
On Iunius 3, before the Maker's Shadow got back to the Platixi Empire, the Phrovan Socialist Republic contacted them, saying that while they did not wanted to "topple" the "monopoly" on psychology by the Platixi Empire, they wanted to point out that different species tended to have different psychological patterns, meaning that what might be effective psychology could be useless, or worse, detrimental, to another. They then mentioned that this was a very important distinction, as almost all nations had different dominant species.
On Iunius 12, the Maker's Shadow responded to the Platixi Empire, saying that the platixi trade offer was "very kind," and that information on the biology of both the Platixi Empire and the Gigaquadrant at large was "welcome." They then asked what the platixi wanted in return, and (weirdly) declared that they would "provide" the platixi with something called "SUUREN LUOJAN SIUNAUKSET SINULLE," which could mean anything, from purple spice to nuclear bombs to a cure for cancer. All in all, the message was quite odd.
The Platixi Empire then responded to both messages, saying that, regarding the Maker's Shadow's offer, "Our teachings cost nothing but peace," which could also mean anything, and started to make many intelligence agents in the Nivenian Empire wonder if the two countries were secretly speaking in code. The Platixi Empire also stated, regarding the Phrovan Socialist Republic's arguments, that due to evolutionary convergence, most species had more or less the same psychologically, then stating that "A true division would be sentience."
A large political division occurred around Iunius 39, when a large group of Nivenian cyborgs, largely in the Nivenian Board of Technology, began to argue that due to their extensive enhancement, they should be considered a new subspecies of Nivenian, the Ultra-Nivenians. While this proposal was largely dismissed at first, support for a division began to slowly grow, potentially paving the way for new legislation on the difference and distinction between them and regular Nivenians. Or, the activism might not go anywhere - it was too early to tell.
On Novemex 14, the Maker's Shadow contacted the Nivenian Empire, with a proposal to build an embassy in the Nivenian Empire. They specified that, to be "fair" to the Nivenian Empire, they would give some information to the Nivenian Empire regarding their suggestion. They proceeded to describe their "ambassador" units, which were apparently comparatively intelligent, but "extremely unstable," and heavily cybernetically augmented, requiring a building-sized support structure known to the Maker's shadow as an "embassy." The Maker's Shadow then requested a planet to deploy one of these embassies on, to further good relations with the Nivenian Empire.
While the Nivenian Empire would have liked to contact the Maker's Shadow back sooner, it had its own ridiculous internal problems, most notably a new fervent religious group, the Sons of Spode. The Sons of Spode first surfaced in 24 NE, though they were at the time a small, unremarkable cult of a few thousand. As they checked all of the boxes for a "dangerous subversive cult, likely to commit treason," they were pre-emptively arrested, and nothing was heard for more than a decade. However, when they resurfaced on Novemex 8, they came back with billions of followers, mostly on Nivenia Prime.
Unfortunately, when they did come back, they also came back with most of the access codes to the active-support tubes running through the orbital rings on Nivenia Prime, and they also had the immense audacity to disable the magnets keeping the hypervelocity tapes in place, the momentum exchange holding the rings against gravity in normal circumstances. Unfortunately, when the magnets turned off, the tape slammed into the tube, exploded, and the whole apparatus promptly fell down to the planet. Even worse, the ring that they attacked was the third from the ground, meaning it hit the first two rings and caused similar malfunctions in them as well.
In an instant, half a quadrillion metric tons of flaming metal crashed into the planet-spanning layered megacity on the surface, with just as much shrapnel flying off at just the wrong speed - it would never escape the planet's gravity well, but would blow holes in anything in low or medium orbit like artillery. Most of the Nivenian Empire's hyperspace transmitters were on the rings as well, far from the noise and interference of the metal ecumenopolis, but close enough to minimize light-lag. In in instant, the Nivenian Empire was hit by the threefold debilitating blow of a hundred and thirty trillion deaths from the falling debris (mostly in the upper levels; the lower levels were not affected nearly as badly), being out of contact with colonies and other empires alike, and having most of their orbital infrastructure around Nivenia Prime blown into shrapnel by the debris from the rings.
In the following weeks, reconstruction on the planet started. As most of the major corporations in the rest of the system realized that the legitimacy of the original government was the only thing preventing them from going into a likely decades-long war over the outer system, they made what could be considered a silent agreement to defraud as much as they could from as many people as they could, not attack each other, provide token support to the government, and pretend nothing happened afterwards.
By the end of Novemex, reconstruction was complete on Nivenia Prime. As the lost infrastructure was essential to the functioning of the planet, the government had to cough up a massive monetary incentive for its reconstruction by the end of the month. Luckily, several competing corporations stepped up to the task. While several districts of Nivenia Prime were ravaged beyond sense, the lowest layers were mostly intact, and the land values on Nivenia Prime assured a quick recovery in the future. It was only then that the Nivenian Empire finally, fully went back "online."
At the beginning of Dekemurios, the Nivenian Empire finally was able to respond to the Maker's Shadow. After examining their message, it was determined, and the message was sent, that the Nivenian Empire needed more specifics on the preferable locations, ground footprint, and the designs for additional arrangements before construction of the facility could begin, and also asking if Nivenia A11, the planet where the Nivenian Empire has typically created embassies, would be a suitable place for the embassy in question.
On Dekemurios 9, the Maker's Shadow got back to the Nivenian Empire, saying that Nivenia A11 was a viable planet, with "suitable atmospheric conditions for full structural integrity," and that the planned embassy would be composed of two sections. The primary section would be an area for Nivenian diplomats and traders, able to accommodate half a million of them. The second section would be formatted to the different atmospheric conditions of the components of the Maker's Shadow, designed to accommodate fifty thousand of their "humanoid constructs," along with a special "embassy" building containing a cybernetic ambassador which would presumably serve as the hub of the area.
The problem was, the plans specified for the embassy building presumed to be central to the operation included several unknown components, such as AALTO-CLASS SIGNAL PROCESSORS or HELMIÄ-CLASS BIOARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCES. On Dekemurios 20, after pondering over this for a while, and acquiring the land on Nivenia A11 necessary, the Nivenian Government again queried the Maker's Shadow, this time about the unknown components. The Maker's Shadow responded by clarifying that they would be providing the central embassy building, and apologizing for the misunderstanding, also stating that the main facility would arrive via hyperspace travel, and assemble itself once it reached the target planet.
By Dekemurios 42, the specified facilities were completed, and a transmission was sent to the Maker's Shadow confirming the completion and saying that the only component left was the embassy module that they would provide. While waiting for a response, the Nivenian Government broadcast a message to the Gigaquadrant. They explained why they had been offline for more than a month, and, following that, how a hundred and thirty trillion Nivenians died in a massive terrorist bombing of Nivenia Prime's orbital rings. Finally, they asked for the help and support of the Gigaquadrant in bringing the perpetrators of the bombing to justice.
On Dekemurios 49, JCompany responded to the Nivenian Empire's transmission, stating that they were stunned by the news, and offering to send their "Bureaucrat JDivision and 4th Defense JDivision to provide all the necessary legal, law enforcement, humanitarian and military support," in accordance with the defensive pact that they had signed with the Nivenian Empire in 2851 AD, or 31 NE in the Cyrannian calendar. Supreme Ambassador JCute, in a show of goodwill, announced his intention of leading the aid efforts on Nivenia Prime, as well as seeing the destruction wrought by the attack with his own eyes.
On Dekemurios 53, another civilization, as yet not contacted by the Nivenian Empire, the United Knights Alliance, a civilization from the Tyris Major galaxy, contacted the Nivenian Empire, and announced that "the United Knights Alliance stands with you in this dark hour," as well as offering military aid in bringing the terrorists to justice. While they were not allied with the Nivenian Empire, they said that "a member of the Federation of Free States and as the military hyper-power of the Tyris Major galaxy," they were in a position to help, and would do so if necessary.
On Neochios 3, the Nivenian Empire responded to both parties. To JCompany, they asked specifically for aid in the re-organization of the sections of Nivenia Prime damaged by the attack, as there were still large regions of effective anarchy on the planet's surface continuing to disrupt trade, order, and the rebuilding of more sensitive infrastructure. To the United Knights Alliance, they formally thanked them for their support, but pointed out that at the moment they had no idea where the Sons of Spode went, and suspected that they had vanished into the crevices of Nivenia Prime, meaning bringing them to justice would likely take years, or even decades.
On Neochios 11, JCompany got back to the Nivenian Empire, with troubling news regarding Tycoon JOmnivore, who had regarded Nivenia Prime as his second home after several years of therapy. Although the JPeacekeepers of the 4th Defense JDivision were going to Nivenia Prime to help restore order in the damaged areas of the planet, which was obviously good, Tycoon JOmnivore, the leader of JCompany, was "hit hard by this news, more than anyone else in JSector, having Nivenia Prime as his second home." This was unfortunate, but it remains to be seen whether this will damage or strengthen relations. Tycoon JOmnivore would reportedly contact the Nivenian Empire soon, according to the transmission.
On Neochios 37, a the Sublime Grubmolian State also responded to the Nivenian Empire's message, sending their regards, and saying that they had also had a massive terrorist attack (presumably the initial rebellion of the Pure Divinity of Spodia) recently, which "took the life of an entire moon, as well as many more people thanks to the debris." They then stated their hope that the Nivenian empire would be able to recover from this attack. While the message was well-received, and expressed good sentiment, no help was offered. Still, the support was appreciated by many.
Soon afterwards, the Pure Divinity of Spodia responded as well, seeming most concerned not with humanitarian aid, but with the Sons of Spode terrorist organization, as "their first action [was] to inflict casualties on trillions of people," while they called themselves Spodists. The Pure Divinity of Spodia then stated that they would "be looking closely into investigating this group in order to put a stop to their infidel activity," which presumably meant they would help. In what way, most Nivenians were not sure.
On Neochios 49, the Phrovan Socialist Republic also responded, offering ten thousand medics and the capacity to support a few tens of millions of temporary refugees, the fact that the number of casualties was nearly ten thousand times their entire empire's population put a bit of a damper on the offer. Nevertheless, some help is better than none, and even if the Phrovan Socialist Republic's help would not significantly benefit the planet, it would benefit the people that they helped. This was seen as a sensible attitude by most Nivenians.
At the end of Neochios, the Nivenian Empire responded to the parties involved, thanking them for their support which was quite appreciated in these eventful times, and, in particular, asking the Pure Divinity of Spodia exactly what they meant by "look into this." While having their support and help would be good, an independent investigation carried out by outraged zealots did not exactly sit well with most Nivenians, especially if the investigation in question was to take place in the fragile bowels on Nivenia Prime.
On Ianuaria 2, 39 NE, MegaSuperUltraCorp finished their new shipyards around Nivenia B3 for the Nivenian Imperial Government. The new shipyards consisted of a network of dozens orbital rings more or less in the plane of the planet, designed to build large structures and then launch them into space. The rings provided employment for tens of trillions, and could churn out thousands of enormous ships and facilities every day. It was designed both for military and civilian use, and while the military segment was the only one completed by Ianuaria 2, 39 NE, this facility would grow to be the source of a full fifth of the ships, both civilian and military, in the Nivenian Empire, as it significantly expanded on the previous model.
These shipyards immediately began producing ships to be sold to the Nivenian Imperial Government, particularly the military support ships requested more than a year earlier, including mobile shipyard facilities (for the construction of new ships and the repair of old ones using raw materials), mobile munitions plants (for the manufacturing of munitions to supply military forces with ammunition and fuel from raw materials), military mining platforms (for the extraction in situ of these raw materials), and cargo transports (for the transport of these goods from place to place).
On Ianuaria 36, Queen Sophram of the Null Empire responded to both the Nivenian Empire's announcement regarding the catastrophe a few months before, and the message from Nu'lva Shal a few years before. To the first, she cryptically noted "Not again," possibly referring to the bombing of Nivenia B3 more than a decade earlier, and asked if the Nivenian Empire needed any help subduing or killing the terrorists. To the second, she noted that Null Spice did have some of the odd properties noted to be part of Void/Abyss relics and artifacts, but noted that "As far as I am aware there aren't any reports of Null Spice talking to people or other void stuff. There has been one report of insanity at our Null Spice production star system, but that is probably because the system has a lot of black holes in it, as well as a neutron star or 2." However, no one was quite sure what neutron stars or black holes were considered a reasonable explanation for insanity, much less how a single case of insanity in an entire star system was somehow odd, the second observation suggesting that perhaps Spitbellies and Querians have a very different psychology than Nivenians, and should be handled with caution.
On Ianuaria 39, NP-L2-ASI01 of the Nivenian Empire Board of Technology got back to Queen Sophram's offer, stating again that the real issue at hand was apprehension; as the perpetrators of this heinous deed escaped into the undercity of Nivenia Prime, there was no easy way to track them down. While the Nivenian Empire would thus greatly appreciate any foreign help in this investigative process, actual containment and punishment was something that they could handle on their own, and the investigation in question was likely to take years or decades to conclude.
The "Ultra-Nivenian dispute," as it came to be called, was put on the back-burner in the aftermath of the disaster, but by the end of Ianuaria, 39 NE, it had worked its way back into mainstream politics. Interestingly, this divide was largely across party lines, as it was a matter largely internal to the highly-augmented Board of Technology, and composed of those who wanted to be afforded extra rights based on their new status, and those who did not. As they were in roughly equal proportions, and neither major party supported changes of this nature, deliberations came to a bit of an impasse, and the matter was tabled for the next few months. However, this issue would remain a popular one in the Nivenian Empire until it was resolved, as acknowledging another species as part of the Nivenian Empire could potentially have major complications.
On Martex 7, Queen Sophram of the Null Empire got back to the Nivenians, saying that they could spare a hundred thousand scouting drones to help look for and apprehend the perpetrators of the attack on Nivenia Prime. While tens of billions of Nivenia Prime police force personnel were already looking for the perpetrators, Queen Sophram made two valid points for why this could help: First, any help in finding the perpetrators would help, and even a little help was slightly beneficial. Second, as the Nullian drones would have different codes, procedures, and operating systems than Nivenian Equipment, they would be harder for the perpetrators to hide from.
However, there was a third, implied, and probably unintended point to why the drones were useful that would, for the time being, change the relationship between the Nivenian Empire and the Null Empire dramatically. This was the fact that the Null Empire apparently had operable drones capable of facial recognition on completely different species. While this might not sound like much to most spacefaring civilizations, especially the ones that knew about the Nivenian experimentation (and success) in creating a superintelligence, Nivenian computers, while modular and easily put together, were expensive and bulky. Nivenian computers are typically digital systems based on integrated circuits (analog components, made from operation amplifiers, have more specialized uses, typically in systems control and artificial intelligence), with the smallest components in the integrated circuits usually being measured in the hundreds of nanometers. This meant that an extremely high-end Nivenian desktop computer might be capable of 500 MHz processing power using a 32-bit system. This also means that while facial recognition is certainly possible in the Nivenian Empire, it requires massive amounts of auxiliary computing power to handle the processing requirements. This, along with the fact that the Null Empire had drones that could do this, meant that the Null Empire had access to vastly greater computing power than the Nivenians. The implications of this were staggering. While the Nivenians needed an entire space station, with a support structure weighing hundreds of billions of metric tons, to create a computer with an IQ in the mid-high 200s, the Nullians could do the same with a thousand times less mass and industrial capacity due to their better technology in that field. The only silver lining to this was the fact that the Null Empire did not appear to possess substantial experience in the field of artificial intelligence.
What this meant was that the Nivenian Empire had to prevent artificial intelligence technology from falling into the hands of the Nullians; the technology had taken centuries to develop in the Nivenian Empire, and was extremely incremental in its development; while the first superintelligent machine had been a big milestone, machines half or a quarter as powerful had already been in use for years when its constructions stated. NP-L2-ASI01 was not some massive technological singularity, just the start of an age were there existed machines that were marginally smarter than the smartest Nivenians. With population growth, a Nivenian might be born smarter than NP-L2-ASI01 before a better AI was built, as well.
The Nullians, however, if they got good artificial intelligence technology, would not have the strict limits based on computer hardware that plagued the Nivenians for so long, and could potentially create something similar or superior to NP-L2-ASI01 without any experience in controlling lesser, but still intelligent machines. This, many feared, could potentially lead to the rise of a hyperinteligent Nullian supermachine that could pose a threat to the entire First Gigaquadrant. All of this is why, when the time came for the Nivenian Empire to respond, they merely stated that the Null Empire's points were valid, and then debated the matter fervently for the rest of the month.
By the beginning of Iunius, three camps had arisen over the "Null Computer Debate," as the matter came to be called. Interestingly, NP-L2-ASI01 seemed to refrain from taking sides on this debate, for reasons unknown at the time. The first camp, labeled the "Nivenianists," believed that this entire matter would not be a problem, as the Null Empire was quite far away from the Nivenian Empire, being in a completely different galaxy cluster. This was the most popular opinion in the Nivenian Board of Technology, as it was supported by the Industrial Safety Party, which had run the government for several years. The second camp, labeled the "Technologists," provided most of the opposition to the Nivenianists, believing that instead of ignore the problem, the Nivenian Empire should advance its own computing and artificial intelligence techniques, and try to develop a friendly superintelligent machine (even more so than NP-L2-ASI01), to help combat potential superintelligent enemies with a pro-Nivenian attitude. This group was supported by the Industrial Progress Party, still a large political entity, and having contacts from the decades of ruling the government previous to the Industrial Safety Party's coup. The third camp, labeled the "Patriots" by themselves and the "War Hawks" by everyone else, was substantially smaller than the first two, but advocated for a military takeover (Interestingly, they did not say anything about how in the world the Nivenian Empire would even by able to get to the Null Empire, much less take them over.) of the Null Empire, by whatever means necessary, and the seizure of all of their technology. This was considered by both major parties as unnecessarily violent and rude, and, if somehow implemented, would break the trust of everyone in the Nivenian Empire, since the Null Empire had been considered a trusted ally for years. Unsurprisingly, the War Hawks fell out of favor during the first few weeks of the debate.
For weeks, the debates tipped one way, or the other, until a compromise was reached between the two positions on Iunius 40, 39 NE. The compromise was structured as follows. First, the Technologists would get what they wanted with a government funding of research, but the funding would only go to corporate-funded projects to prevent unnecessary spending and unnecessary government-induced delays in getting the product out, giving the highest effect per unit spending. Second, the Nivenianists would be able to ignore the issue almost completely, save for a small department of a few million Nivenians tasked with monitoring the situation, if there are any updates on the Nullian end.
Unfortunately, it is a fact of politics that when one problem ends, another tends to begin. The incident with the Null Empire had caused another divide between the Pro-Ultra-Nivenian faction and the Anti-Ultra-Nivenian faction of the Board of Technology, so much so that by Iunius 42 the Board of Technology was plagued by endless filibusters, each trying to delay the actions of the other side. This got so intense that Director of Research and Development Dr. Lester Carey had to forcibly call a recess on the Board of Technology a few days later, suspending them for the next couple of weeks. Unsurprisingly, this was greatly frowned upon on all sides, yet many understood that the forced dismissal was necessary to prevent total stagnation.
When the two week period expired on Novemex 1, 39 NE, the divide started up again, both in the Board of Technology, and in a new front, the corporations. The Megastructural Construction Corporation came out in favor of renaming dramatically augmented Nivenians "Ultra-Nivenians," with the added rights and political power that came with it, for the simple reason that most of the upper management, not to mention the owners, of the Megastructural Construction Corporation were wealthy enough to have been heavily augmented several years prior. On the other side, MegaSuperUltraCorp largely leaded the other direction, due to their public nature, and the low proportion of heavily augmented Nivenians in the upper middle class and below. This divide lead to an upscaling of the whole issue, with both corporations using small, but significant portions of the advertising money to push their respective agendas. Although the problem had been confined to the Board of Technology before, it was beginning to spill into mainstream politics, which would dramatically influence the government for quite a while.
On Novemex 23, a massive synchronized protest began on several habitats, planets, and ringworlds, involving trillions of people, crying out both for and against the Ultra-Nivenian proposal. This protest began as a relatively peaceful one, but an influx of restless people caused large amounts of rioting and looting to break out as the protest grew in number. In the end, after several days of this, the authorities had to break out large amounts of sleeping gas to defuse the situation. Thankfully, this worked, stopping the protests from getting any more violent.
On Novemex 30, 39 NE, the massive megastructure known as Andasium Reductor 4 was completed. This device would use five yottawatts of energy beamed from the Caeruleo system to power massive synthesis chambers, which would conduct electrolysis on nearly a quintillion metric tons of andasium oxide per day into 720 quadrillion metric tons of andasium metal per day - the mass of a small planet every year. This would make the Nivenian Empire, and especially the Megastructural Construction Corporation, not only andasium-independent (which they were before, when andasium was a curiosity of nuclear chemisty), and not only a net andasium provider, but a provider of renewable andasium, created in a structure that harnessed the energy of the nuclear furnace of a star, even ranking as the 11th largest supplier of andasium in the gigaquadrant.
After about a week, the entire system was up and running, and there was a substantial stockpile of Andasium in the possession of the Megastructural Construction Corporation. After this was done, the Megastructural Construction Corporation made an announcement: "Due to a combination of technological advances, and nearly a decade of hard work by quadrillions, we have developed a way to mass-produce andasium from andasium oxide and energy. As such, we would like to begin selling this resource to the wider Gigaquadrant, both to procure more construction materials, and to acquire rare resources needed for experimentation, such as various actinides, chemical catalysts such as palladium, platinum, iridium, etc., and some types of rare gases."
On Novemex 44, 39 NE, a new political theory came into existence by being proposed. While this theory was not completely correct, if viewed by the more advanced civilizations in the galaxy, the Nivenians, for whom technological growth looked to be stagnant, bound by the laws of conservation of mass and energy, it made a lot of sense. This theory, proposed by a high-ranking member of the Board of Technology, was that the Gigaquadrant, as it currently stood, with the vast majority of its resources unexploited, was a zero-sum game, and the only way to win was to become a Gigaquadrant-spanning Kardashev 3.2 civilization before anyone else could.
While this proposal was not accepted by most, it was considered by many. The main limitations were the lack of Nivenian FTL, the Nivenian population and growth rate, and the similar quantities of the other civilizations in the universe. Although this theory would not cause any substantial change in Nivenian politics or thinking in the short term, it did plant the seeds of growth in the minds of many.
On Novemex 53, JCompany responded to the Megastructural Construction Corporation, requesting 80 Quadrillion metric tons of andasium per day. This was great news for the Megastructural Construction Corporation, as they now knew that there existed sufficient demand for large quantities of andasium, such as the amounts petaflux synthesis techniques would allow. In exchange, JCompany would provide 400 Quadrilion metric tons of andasium (VIII) oxide per day, to put through Andasium Reductor 4, and keep it working, and 8 Quintillion metric tons of carbon per day, which was nearly the mass of Nivenia Prime every year, and even better, was a steady supply.
Interlude: Special Project
Something else that was mentioned in the Novemex 53 JCompany message was something called the "Theory of J," which was created by Genius JCreepy to explain the JMist in the JSector. The JSector was the home sector of JCompany, and all of its subsidiaries, and could be considered by many the economic center of the Gigaquadrant since the mid-20s NE, and the JMist was a phenomenon that made it impossible to observe the sector with non-electromagnetic sensors, rendering FTL communication inoperable, and scrambling all FTL signals to sound like an endlessly repeating letter J. Interestingly enough, it could be that the JSector, and by extension, JCompany, were only able to become the de facto marketplace of the Gigaquadrant due to their isolation; they had been spacefaring for a millennium at least when they finally broke through the JMist into the wider universe, and due to their war over much of that time, they already had an advanced and capable military defense force, unlike most civilizations, which are plunged into gigaquadrantic politics as soon as someone randomly bumps into them (something similar could have happened to the Nivenian Empire, which could have had its growth stunted if it had not been able to expand over its home system for as long as it did due to external forces.).
Both the Megastructural Construction Corporation and the Nivenian Imperial Board of Technology decided that this was worth researching, and decided to dedicate a few science teams on the matter. The Megastructural Construction Corporation, as they were not located in the JSector, was more focused on the theoretical aspects of the JMist and the J, as that may lead to things that could be possible to do outside the JSector, while the Nivenian Imperial Board of Technology asked JCompany for permission to send a science teams through the UTU wormhole on Dekemurios 17.
JCompany responded positively on Dekemurios 9, affirming that the help of the Megastructural Construction Corporation and the Nivenian Imperial Board of Technology would be appreciated in solving this mystery, especially be Genius JCreepy and the Science JDivision. Another interesting thing was the possibility of "JMist Synthesizers," devices which apparently can extract simple materials from the JMist, alluding to a particulate-based or plasma-based composition, potentially a technological structure based on the interstellar medium.
By Dekemurios 30, both the theoretical and experimental ventures, conducted by the Megastructural Construction Corporation and the Nivenian Imperial Board of Technology, respectively, had yielded results. The prevailing theory in the JSector, proposed by Genius JCreepy, was the "Theory of J," which stated that there was an entity called "J" from a different universe, likely one which had reached nearly maximum entropy, that was trapped between our universe and its own, and may not only have created the JMist, but be maintaining it. There were several versions of this theory, falling into two main divides, perpendicular to each other. The first divide was on whether J was conscious, with proponents stating that the creation of the JMist required conscious action, and opponents stating the contrary - that a conscious being would create something more complicated and informative than the JMist. The second divide was on the matter of the home universe of this "J" entity - was it completely dead, which would mean that "J" could violate the second law of thermodynamics, or was it only partially dead, with some tiny amount residual thermal energy left to use? The proponents of a completely dead universe argued that technology that broke the second law of thermodynamics already existed in the Gigaquadrant, and would therefore not be impossible, even if it seemed so, while the opponents argued that the use of such technology would render it unnecessary for an entity such as this to leave their own universe.
However, another theory emerged, coming from NP-L2-ASI01, who deemed it the most logical, given the data at hand - the "S.I.E.D. Theory." This theory, with the full (and unwieldy) name of the "Static Interstellar Electric Disturbance Theory," proposed that the "J" entity was a more complex version of the pseudo-chemical reactions sometimes observed when mixing dust and extremely thin plasma in zero gravity, under a vacuum - structures resembling nucleic acids could sometimes form, due to static electricity. This new theory stated that while a "J" entity was causing the JMist, and may even be conscious, it was really a massive, sector-spanning lifeform made of these electrically charged dust particles and interstellar plasma.
On Dekemurios 37, Nu'lva Shal asked to buy from the Megastructural Construction Corporation for four metric tons of andasium for scientific experiments to determine the utility of the material, but only as a one-time deal. Interestingly enough, the Megastructural Construction Corporation decided to give her the andasium for free, for the simple reason that allowing the taking of samples for scientific purposes would encourage other nations to see the potential utility of the material, and buy more from the Nivenian Empire. The four metric tons of andasium were promptly packaged and made available for pickup in the Nivenia System.
On Neochios 2, the Maker's Shadow made a similar request for a sample of four metric tons of andasium to use for experimentation to the Megastructural Construction Corporation. The Megastructural Construction Corporation, sensing an opportunity to advertise the utility of andasium to more nations, corporations, and people, potentially increasing the demand for andasium even more, which could substantially raise the price, and therefore profits, decided to make samples of four metric tons freely available at a station near Andasium Reductor 4 itself, at the barycenter of the Nivenia System, to encourage research on the material.
On Neochios 20, two large colonization fleet powered mainly by fusion rockets arrived simultaneously at the Paulo Fluctus Beta and Caeruleo Systems, containing both massive numbers of colonists, and massive amounts of equipment and technology manufactured only on Nivenia Prime - quantum chromodynamic shield generators, protium fusion reactor ignition inducers, various instruction manuals, and of course colonists skilled in the operation of much of this. The ship to the Caeruleo System contained four hundred trillion colonists, while the one to Paulo Fluctus Beta contained three hundred trillion.
These colonization expeditions themselves were viewed by many as extremely odd, as almost all of the colonists sent were highly-trained professionals - logically, miners, farmers, and factory workers would be needed to support these specialists in more advanced industry. Most of the colonists also paid very large sums of money (on the order of a quarter megacredit per nivenian), to get on these trips for some reason. All in all, when the ships were launched on giant stacks of multi-stage hydrogen fusion rockets five years earlier, no one thought much of them, except that they were very odd.
The reason for many of the irregularities in this was actually quite simple. The colonization program had been set forth by a corporation which had had the idea of sending a large amount of specialists to a nearby star system, stealing the cloning technology from Megasuperultracorp (Which was the sole nivenian entity with the secrets to the technology at the time - as one can imagine, this was quite easy due to how fast the information was leaked.), and taking a few tens of thousands of worker templates to clone quadrillions of indentured servants off of. The company, which knew that there were several other companies doing the exact same thing, then decided to send out its ships as fast as possible, to be the first ones there. This was accomplished using magnetic confinement to hold ionized protium fuel for the rockets in a magnetic field, which had allowed for extremely high mass ratios per stage, and therefore a lower mass ration of the entire rocket, around a thousand.
All, in all, the corporation which funded the expedition also went with it, taking most of its assets in the form of expensive goods manufactured only on Nivenia Prime (to give it regional economic and political power in the colonies), and when it arrived, the passengers immediately bought up most of the raw materials in both systems to construct a vast array of cloning machines. Converting their engines to fusion reactors to run the apparatus, the colonists spent the remainder of Neochios churning out eight times their original number in clones, and then putting the clones, now indentured servants of the corporation, to work mining asteroids in both systems. This let the original colonists get productive, and extremely lucrative specialized jobs, the clones get productive, but not lucrative, jobs in mining and agriculture, and the corporation which funded the operation split into two still large corporations (one for each system), specializing in the use of clones to produce massive amounts of food and minerals to feed the burgeoning industries of these systems.
The beginning of the fifth decade NE, was marked, as were so many times, with political turmoil, this time originating from a power struggle between the government and the megacorporations. As the number of megacorporations was growing rapidly, as was their share of the economy, the government decided (in all of is wisdom) to institute a 5% tax on megacorporation profits, "to help them serve their country." Unfortunately, the megacorporations themselves had a very different view on the matter, stating in no uncertain terms that "taxation is theft," and that the government had been taken over by socialists. While this could not be further from the truth (the corporations still controlled 97% of the Nivenian economy, while government activity made up 3%), the megacorporations controlled both major media outlets, and thus could push whatever kind of crazy agenda they wanted without opposition. While the Megastructural Construction Corporation and MegaSuperUltraCorp did not like each other, they could agree wholeheartedly that more taxes were bad.
This created a lot of public anti-government sentiment, amplified by the government's failure to prevent the recent tragedy on Nivenia Prime, which caused an odd chain reaction among government officials. As people started to wonder if a coup was going to happen soon, many government officials began trying to stockpile money, assets, and commodities for a worst-case scenario. This, of course, convinced many more people that the government was going to go under soon. As this happened more and more, the nation grew more and more tense. However, startlingly, there was never any coup. Instead, what the government under the Industrial Safety Party did was declare that there was no coup, that the people had lost faith in the government, and that rival parties would be banned from holding office.
Of course, this lead to a stream of violent protests, which were of course dispensed with by the government with mustard gas if they were on Nivenia Prime, or, if they were not on Nivenia Prime, the officials of whatever planet, habitat, or ringworld the protest was happening on were told that they were to maintain productivity at all costs. This lead to a new form of government, which was considered by some to count as a coup, even though all of the leaders were the same, simply because of the massive amount of change in the political system over that time period. This new government was an oppressive dictatorship near the capital, but had no real enforceable laws anywhere else, other than their "pay your taxes, or we will blow you up" policy towards local officials.
The new government promptly began instituting changes to the laws, mainly to help it hold power, and to benefit the Industrial Safety Party at the expense of everyone else. It was about this time that several members of the Industrial Safety Party decided that they had had enough of this, did not want to be on the wrong side of the nest coup, and left to form the new Habitats' Rights Industrial Safety Party, which opposed a strong central government, but also held that safety was more important than further technological and industrial progress.
Of course, the Industrial Progress Party made a massive comeback after these events, which lead to many of the leaders of the previous regime (at least the ones not in jail) regaining much of their previous power. Not the least of these was Dr. Lester Carey,
who might have orchestrated the entire thing from the start, with the not-insignificant help of NP-L2-ASI01 who became the de facto leader of the Industrial Progress Party, and began the arduous task of separating the Nivenian Board of Technology from the remainder of the government, as a way of both reducing their hold on power and eliminating connections with his superiors.
The Nivenian Imperial Government could now be described as becoming both more and less powerful, at the same time. On the one hand, the Board of Technology, long the Nivenian Imperial Government's greatest asset, was making great strides in leaving the Nivenian Imperial Government. Of course this was being resisted with as much military force as the government could muster, but given as how the Board of Technology contained the Nivenian Empire's smartest, most well-connected, most influential citizens, this was an extremely inefficient process, thwarted by the Board calling in decades' worth of favors from influential politicians, capitalists, militias, and megacorporations.
There was also a trend toward both over-regulation of everything, and less and less obedience to these regulations, due to the government lacking in law enforcement. It should be noted that life outside of Nivenia Prime basically did not change at all, as the regional governors simply began to cease paying attention to new declarations from the capital. Only Nivenia Prime had to contend with the new governmental reforms. Amazingly, it actually took several months for this situation to progress al of the way to rebellion, as no one really wanted to rock the boat after the bloodbath that was the Third Nivenian War of Re-unification. However, economic and military changes directly related to political ones in the following months would change this attitude.
The first problem for the new government was the problem of the disobedience of the regional governors to obey any of the new provisions. The solution? Apparently, the solution was to cover up the problem, as they declared it a FACT that the colonies were still loyal. To them, holding onto Nivenia Prime with an iron fist was a much larger concern than holding onto the colonies, mainly because although neither was self-sufficient, Nivenia Prime had the upper hand in trade negotiations due to their monopoly on vital electronics, forcefields, advanced industrial products, and luxury goods needed for the rest of the empire to function. The system was actually designed this way from the start, hundreds of years back, in an attempt to prevent revolt, and the new government used this to keep trade flowing with the colonies to keep Nivenia Prime operational while they made restrictions, regulations, and taxes to their hearts' content. One of the first regulations they passed was a regulation of lethal weapons. This quickly devolved into legal battles over what a "lethal weapon" was, which quickly became the unspoken rule "I know it when I see it." As a result, plastic toy rayguns were confiscated in large quantities from children, as the government claimed that they were real alien weapons, and a "threat to national security."
The Board of Technology, meanwhile, was conducting its extraction from the government on Nivenia Prime slowly, but methodically, by simply moving to the outer system, and forming a temporary corporation out of the government department, with members of the Board of Technology holding temporary shares of the corporation, based on rank and seniority. This corporation would begin preforming all of the tasks originally done by the Board of Technology while it was still part of the government, but with none of the associated baggage, and now being able to contract out scientific expertise to other entities in the Nivenian Empire. This new corporation, with nearly 15 trillion highly-educated employees, became nearly equal to MegaSuperUltraCorp in terms of economic output (they were the source of most of the Nivenian Empire's new technology), which at the same time deprived the government on Nivenia Prime of these resources. As the Board of Technology removed themselves from this government, taxes were raised accordingly on Nivenia Prime to help fund the new regime, and more and more businesses began to be forcibly nationalized into the new regime, which aggravated the corporations still on Nivenia Prime more and more, and causing many of them to begin considering leaving the planet as a shrewd business decision, or even attempting to rebel against the government.
The month of Iunius, 40 NE was marked by a series of armed power struggles between corporations and the government on Nivenia Prime, most of which were inconclusive, and only served to destabilize the planetary situation, and the legitimacy of the government. However, throughout all of this, massive tensions were rising between the different factions in the system. The government, now confined to Nivenia Prime, was facing resistance to most or all of its policies from almost all angles, as its forces were nowhere near trained or capable enough to maintain control in the hyperurbanized environment of Nivenia Prime. And, a new government was beginning to materialize while the old one was distracted.
Meanwhile, beyond Nivenia Prime, the Megastructural Construction Corporation, MegaSuperUltraCorp, and the Board of Technology realized that this was an opportunity to create a new government that suited their own interests, instead of the political and economic mess on Nivenia Prime. This new government would be an oligarchic minarchy, which essentially adhered to the philosophy of "we will not bother the people, as long as the people do not bother us." The new government would abolish taxes in favor of a "patronage" system where votes were held based on the amount of money you contributed. Essentially, the new regime would be governed by a congressional body consisting of the hundred organizations that had the largest lifetime donation counts toward the government, thereby favoring large corporations and wealthy individuals. Votes in this body would be weighted based on contribution size; so one petacredit donated to the government would get you a thousand times the voting power that a teracredit could. Outside parties could also donate, and therefore influence the voting process, but they would need to travel to the physical location of the congressional body to make their opinion known - no write-in votes, even ones with money attached, would be accepted.
Naturally, the Megastructural Construction Corporation, MegaSuperUltraCorp, and the Board of Technology, and half a dozen of each of their organizations' subsidiaries, stockholders, and executives were all given permanent seats on the new organization. As a side note, what would be the judicial branch of the Nivenian government had actually stayed more or less the same for almost the past eight and a half centuries, with the biggest disturbance actually being the first gigantic thermonuclear war on Nivenia Prime. As such, it was actually no longer considered a branch of the government, but a separate institution, and while its power had increased and decreased over the years, their ability to fund themselves through awarding money to their employees in civil cases meant that they would continue existing, even if they were starved of funding. No one had ever seen the need to get rid of them in their coup, so the "Judiciary Juggernaut" survived.
Finally, on Iunius 38, 40 NE, the New Nivenian Constitution was signed by several dozen large corporations, and the Nivenian Empire was born. As one can probably imagine, this uncreative choice of name caused massive confusion in all circles, which began frequently confusing all of the governments as each other, depending on your location, loyalties, and who you are involved with. As can be imagined, the ringworlds, largely considered the most corporate-controlled part of the already corporate-controlled Nivenian Empire, along with Nivenia A12.1, which was in a similar position (The ringworlds were almost completely saturated with MegaSuperUltraCorp plantations, and A12.1 was entirely covered in a massive urban sprawl of corporate campuses and mining operations controlled by the Megastructural Construction Corporation.), were among the first to endorse the new regime, giving it nearly instant credibility as the government with support from the largest group of habitats in terms of population, and paving the way for other parts of the empire to endorse this nation and recognize it. Unfortunately, a rival regime would soon be born from the now-autonomous B-component of the Nivenia System.
On the first of Novemex, 40 NE, the B-subsystem of Nivenia, which had essentially been politically cut free when the government of a few months prior was reconfined to Nivenia Prime, declared itself the rightous capital of the Nivenian Empire, due to several hundred pages of garbled legal nonsense that no one really fully understood, and had probably been drafted by the new regime itself a few hours earlier. Nevertheless, Nivenia B declared itself the True Nivenian Empire, and quickly rallied the support of its planets and habitats.
Interlude: Nivenian-Periphidi Relations
The Periphidi Assembly had, for almost the past decade, been completely silent on the Gigaquadrantic stage, after the insane conflict of the New Spodia Wars in the mid-late 20s NE, in particular the Ytroalo-Kaa'pic Duel, which was held to maintain their honor by facing their enemy in ritual combat. After this duel (which they won), they appear to have retreated from the gigaquadrantic stage - until they sent a diplomatic message on the Universal Discussion Board on Novemex 20, 40 NE.
The Perphidi Assembly, in its message, appeared to have been in turmoil for the past several years over internal political problems (Much like the Nivenian Empire had been for the past two decades, though THE MARCH OF PROGRESS was usually enough to keep industry, and thus trade and diplomacy, flowing despite this.) involving High Apex Kaa'pic Isken IV being apperently removed from office, as "[the Ytroalo-Kaa'pic Duel], while well intentioned, made us foolish, it sent us upon a path that the First Apex would look upon in disgust," at least in the words of Laa'dan Isken I, the new High Apex of the Platixi Empire.
While these sentiments seemed reasonable on the surface, the fact remained that the only source of information of however High Apex Kaa'pic Isken IV lost office is the new High Apex, which lead most in all three Nivenian Governments to bevlive that the entire incident had noting to do with "honor" or "a path that the First Apex would look upon in disgust," arther it was likely an internal coup by High Apex Laa'dan Isken I. However, as this coup was occuring in a completely seperate nation, it was not immidiately important to Nivenian affairs, and did not really affect the Nivenian Empire.
In addition, High Apex Laa'dan Isken I, the new ruler of the Perphidi Assembly, declared that all trade deals and diplomatic agreements from the reign of High Apex Kaa'pic Isken IV were to be null and void, though previous diplomatic opinions would largely still stand. In the wake of this announcement, both the Nivenian Empire (the minarchist corporate-sponsored regime, to be exact - as that regime had the support of NP-L2-ASI01, the previous representative of the Nivenian Empire (and the most intelligent individual in it) on the diplomatic stage, and JCompany both quickly managed to secure trade routes between their respective territories and the Perphidi Assembly (with the Nivenians noting that due to the current political crisis, trade routes would be diverted from Nivenia Prime to the other planets in the Nivenia System).
As the government on Nivenia Prime continued its never-ending battle with the corporations that had not relocated off of Nivenia Prime over tax codes and government regulation, and the government in the Nivenia B subsystem continued attempting to justify its existence, a new era of prosperity had come over the rest of the Nivenian Empire. The economic boom of the mid-30s had started to wane over the previous year, but the near-total dissolution of government across most of the Nivenia system opened up markets that had been stifled for decades, in areas such as psychoactive chemicals, anti-leadership propaganda, and all manner of other goods and serices that had previously been banned.
This created a stimulant on the economy, especially when coupled with the removal of voluntary taxation on behalf of the now-minute government. As a result, most goods both became significantly cheaper and significantly more consumed, which drove up the value of the Nivenian Credit relative to consumer goods. However, due to the consumption spree, GDP per capita and average income were more or less unchanged, leading to significantly increased prosperity. While the beginning of Dekemurios, 40 NE showed the most change in this regard (with both prosperity and consumerism increasing by over 15%), this change would be increasingly felt throughout the coming decades.
On Dekemurios 32, 40 NE, the twentieth anniversary of the Nivenian introduction into the gigaquadrantic community took place. This marked another major milestone for the Nivenian Empire, as they had come even farther in the second half of those twenty years than even the first half, with the Nivenian population now well over half a quintillion. Alliances were made. Wars were influenced. Immense megastructures had been built. And, though at the same time the Third Nivenian War of Reunification and other, smaller conflicts had killed quadrillions and shattered any unified government the Nivenians might have once had, the economic boom from the new regime meant that things were beginning to look up again for the Empire.
On Dekemurios 38, 40 NE, the new Nivenian government had to consider what would later be known as the most important economic issue of its time: currency reform. For decades the Nivenian Credit had been based on the value of a gram of Plutonium-239, but the fact was that there was not nearly enough plutonium in the Nivenia System, od even the whole Nivenian Empire, to actually convert even a day of the nation's GDP into actual plutonium, per the exchange rate. While banknotes were invariably used instead, a run on the plutonium supply could cripple the economy. This was usually fine, but on Dekemurios 38, with the changing economic and poitical circumstances, it all fell apart. The culprit, was, interestingly enough, a self-fulfilling prophecy on Nivenia A11. The recent Ecumenopolization of the planet had lead to an economic boom, which, combined with the boom in the rest of the system and the cotinued flow of trade to and from the planet, led many to consider more quantifiable goods than plutonium, specifically andasium, which was the Nivenian Empire's most important (gigaquadrantically speaking) export, to be better stockpiles of wealth, as a run on plutonium could cripple the nation's monetary supply. This idea would have died out quickly, had not a random multi-trillionaire bought on on Dekemurios 32, and tried to cash in all of her credits to get a few million metric tons of plutonium-239 to trade with aliens for more quantifiable goods. While the plutonium-239 did exist, it was three-quarters of the planet's local stockpile, which lead to a plutonium shortage as the planet closed down its currency exchange facilities. When the shutdown happened, a large fraction of the Nivenians on the planet paniced, and as soon as the plutonium/credit exchange re-opened, there was a run, and the new shipment of plutonium-239 on Dekemurios 38 quickly vanished as well. The resulting instability would take weeks of propaganda and new plutonium shipments to sort out. With this happening on one planet, it was therefore only a matter of time before similar intances would begin happening on others, and only a matter of time after that until the currency of the entire system fell apart. The new Nivenian government saw this unfold, and, realizing that something had to be done, began holding hearings regarding creating a new system of currency to replace the now-unstable old system.
At the beginning of Neochios, the discussions on potential new types of currency to use began. The Megastructural Construction Corporation obviously wanted to use either carbon or steel, or andasium, as all three were elements that they manufactured in abundance. MegaSuperUltraCorp of course wanted to use biomatter, fertilizers, or agricultural products, as those were its primary resources. Similarly, the Nivenian Board of Technology was inclined to use the quark-matter nuclei critical to the functioning of Quantum Chromodynamic Shields for spaceships, which of course only they knew how to make.
Although many other corporations tried to make their own products be the new currency (since whomever controlled it would have a great deal of political and economic power), these three became the main focuses. The current price of carbon on the old currency was fluctuating around seven credits per metric ton, so the Megastructural Construction Corporation proposed that each new credit be worth approximately 0.7 old credits (which would likely be of similar value to 5 USD by the end of 40 NE), and be defined as the value of 100 kg of graphite (carbon nanotubes and graphene went for about fifteen times, and thirty times, respectively, the price of graphite). MegaSuperUltraCorp's proposal was of course tied to the value of various edible crops, which generally hovered around 45 Nivenian Credits per ton, almost an order of magnitude more than the price of carbon (this was due to the need for manual labour in harvesting crops, versus the vast megastructures that could blow apart a terrestrial planet in a couple of weeks and scavenge the materials for processing). As such their idea for the new credit was one worth approximately 0.45 old credits, and representing 10 kg (note that this was the mass when wet, not the mass of the food when freeze-dried) of freeze-dried food (so the food could be preserved for long periods of time). However, the value of quark-matter nuclei was vastly different than either of these. Quark-matter nuclei have to be made in particle accelerators with very low efifciencies, and thus cost roughly a thousand times their mass-energy to make with the Nivenian technology of the time - about seven megacredits per kilogram. This extreme wealth density would have won it the position as the commodity that backed the currency thrity yearsprior, but it was a known fact in the Nivenian Empire by this point that nations like the DCP and other "hyper-civilizations," as they were called, could make these materials for less than one ten-thousandth the cost. Energy, which was also proposed by some, had the same problem - there existed civilizations so rich in energy that they would be able to instantly destroy the Nivenian economy.
For several days, the situation was dire - as it seemed to appear that the Nivenian Empire would be stuck using carbon or agricultural products to back its currency - both of which had issues, and neither of which were particuarly valuble. per unit mass. However, after about a week of this, someone at the Megastructural Construction Corporation brought up andasium. It checked all of the boxes - it was useful, widely used across the gigaquadrant, and the Nivenian Empire could produce an amount not that far below the "hyper-civilizations" (presumably they had better energy storage methods). As such, it was chosen by Neochios 47 as the new official currency of the Nivenian Empire. As Andasium usually went for about 0.85 credits per kilogram, the new credit would be worth 0.85 times as much as the old one, and be defined as one kilogram of Andasium equivalent.
At the beginning of 41 NE, the two spacefaring Nivenian governemnts clashed - the corporate minarchist regime controlling most of the space around the primary of the Nivenia System, and the "generic dictatorship," a state with no real ideology other than maintaining power, that had formed around the secondary of the Nivenia System. While the former contained nearly a humdred times the population of the second, the latter cotained the majority of the old Nivenian naval forces, and was much better armed than the former in terms of military equipment. However, while the government around the secondary had the advantage in the case of a conventional war between the two, the goverment around the primary still had access to the light from Caeruleo that had been sent two years ago, before the political breakup of the Nivenian Empire. As such, neither government really wanted to fight the other, paving the way for a potential treaty of unification. Both regimes wanted stability in the other part of the system - and unification would be the best way to go about this. Thus, on Ianuaria 7, 41 NE, the unification conferences began.
Representatives from both governments met on the one point of common ground they had, a disputed territory that neither had a good claim to. Andasium Reductor Four. Andasium Reductor Four actually was having an upgrade installed that would allow it to increase throughput by a factor of 50% due to advances in materials since the time of its construction research leading to incremental improvemtns in active heat-rejection systems garnered from inspection of trade items bought from alien races. Due to the construction, the reductor had been shut off for the time being (it should be noted for the record that the construction project started relatively quitely on Dekemurios 59, 40 NE, and was scheduled to continue until Dekemurios 24, 41 NE), making it and the surrounding habitats for employees an excellent candidate for a demilitarized zone and peace talks between the two factions. The Megastructural Construction Corporation of course approved, as the signing of a unification treaty between these two governments at their industrial facility would be excellent publicity for them, both domestically and abroad.
Interlude: Intranational Intergovernmental Relations
When the negotiations started, diplomats from both sides discussed their solid dealbreakers on the relationship between the "Nivenia A Empire" (the corporateocratic minarchy around Nivenia A) and the "Nivenia B Empire" (the generic dictatorship around Nivenia B). First, both governments could agree that the regime that was still trying to seize control on Nivenia Prime was a serious problem - as their totalitarian philosophies combined with a pretense of democracy were against the policies of both governments. Second, there was the matter of the out-of-system colonies. On this matter, the Nivenia A Empire was the only one with a decisive opinion, which was to allow the colonies to have cultural and economic autonomy, as well as the freedom to select their own form of government, but still be part of the Nivenian Empire in matters of foreign relations. As the Nivenia B Empire was essentially a rebellious colony, they agreed to these extremely loose restrictions. Third, and perhaps most importantly, there was the matter of the political interactions between the territories of the two governments, as well as their autonomy over their own (and each others') territories, and their voices in foriegn affairs. While both governments wanted autonomy over themselves, they also wanted autonomy over the other. The discussions of this issue were heated, and draggen on for weeks. Eventaully, a comprimise was made. This essentially entailed a system of checks and balances that the two governments had over each other. First, the constitution of the Nivenia B Empire specifically prohibited enough things to make the most libertarian possible state of their country more authoritarian than the most authoritarian possible state of the Nivenia A Empire compliant with their constitution. Essentially, this meant that no laws made over the Nivenia B Empire by the Nivenia A Empire would effect them. Due to this convienient truth, the Nivenia A Empire could claim soverignty over the Nivenia B Empire without any negative side-effects. Freedom of trade and freedom of migration would of course be implied, but the Nivenia B Empire did not have problems with that so important as to negate their part of the comprimise: the place of Nivenia B in foriegn affairs. From then on, the Nivenia B Empire would have nearly equal authority to the Nivenia A Empire in terms of forign relations, with each having the power to both propose and veto diplomatic and international actions. While Nivenia A would have slightly more power due to the continuation of NP-L2-ASI01's position as the nation's official diplomat, this would give Nivenia B much more international influence per capita than Nivenia A, a huge victory for their regime.
On Ianuaria 54, 41 NE, the two governments finally merged into one, coalition regime. This would put the Nivenian Empire back on the international stage, and would be veiwed by future historians as the start of a new, more efficient Nivenian Empire.
On Martex 3, 41 NE, perhaps the most ambitious foriegn policy ever put in place by the Nivenian Empire was enacted - a free migration bill. Under this new bill, foriegners would be allowed to migrate into the Nivenian Empire and have all of the same rights as citezens - with the two exceptions being that certain subdivisions of the Nivenian Empire would now have the right to control their own immigration policies (an example being that the government around Nivenia B did not want foriegners in their space immigrating, and could prevent that with border stations), and that special accomodations would not be provided to those who needed different envirnments that the ones on Nivenian planets - it would far cost too much for individual for the government to fund that. As such individuals requiring different environmental conditions would have to bring along their own accomodations.
As such, after the bill was signed, the two governments agreed to send a message to the Universal Discussion Board informing the gigaquadrant of the new policy.
On Martex 14, JOmnivore from JCompany became the first to respond to this message, congradulating the Nivenians for their new policy, and noting that many citezens of JCompany, including JOmnivore were seeking Nivenian citezenship - probably because of the combination of low taxes and high business oppurtunity for most, but JOmnivore himself claimed to want dual citezenship mainly because he wanted to spend more time on Nivenia Prime, which he had referred to many times as his second home after the several years of therapy he experienced on the planet.
Unfortunately, the new, jointly formed Nivenian diplomatic depertment had to respond to JComapny with the bad news that Nivenia Prime was currently off-limits, as the government on Nivenia Prime was different than the government that now controlled the rest of the Nivenia System. To attempt to force a surrender or unification from the regime on Nivenia Prime, which was having serious domestic problems, they had started embargoing the planet, so that the government controlling it would run out of food unless they resigned. Additionally, the Nivenian diplomatic department provided a list of the provinces that were or were not agreeing to the new free migration policy. However, there was some good news for JComapny, as the Nivenians assured them that the new policy would have citezenship be non-exclusive from now on, alloiwng for dual, triple, or muliple citezenships between countries - to gain citezenship in the Nivenian Empire in one of the provinces that allows it, you basically just have to walk in and ask. In addtion, the Nivenian diplomatic depertment informed JCompany that "conducting governmental business in a population center is a terrible idea due to the significance of any government to terrorists, coups, generic lunatics, and the like, and as such we are in the process of building a new governmental complex at the L2 lagrange point of Nivenia Prime," which was in the process of being implemented at the time.
JCompany promptly responded, glad that there were no restrictions on the possibility of dual citezenship. They then decided to send the JPeacekeepers to monitor the situation on Nivenia Prime, and make sure it did not get out of hand, and to "orientate JCitizens and prevent any misunderstanding," which would be extremely helpful, as there always have been political instabilities in the Nivenian Empire (trying to unify a species under a banner that emerged "victorius" over a thermonuclear conflict is not exactly easy), and they seemed to be coming to a head at the time, making them especially tricky to navigate.
After the Nivenian diplomatic depertment got back to JCompany, thanking them for their support and affirming that the situation on Nivenia Prime was temporary, the Nivenian Empire decided to use different measures to attempt to force a surrender from the planet. Although they had already boycotted the planet from outside trade, the planet (or at least the government) seemed to have large stockpiles of food, which could potentially make the seige an extremely long wait with a lot of civilian casualties. This was bad for multiple reasons, one of which being that if even a third of the population of Nivenia Prime was killed by the boycott, more Nivenians would have died than in the Nivenian-Thadian War of Annexation and the Third Nivenian War of Re-Unification combined.
After weeks of discussing the issue, a plan was developed by the Nivenian imperial government (the new one) in very early Iunius - Nivenia Prime did not have to be bombed, or starved, but merely disabled. If their electricity would not work, their commodes would not work, and their temperature was fluctuating all over the place, surrender would take place within hours with minimal loss of like. But, how could this be done? Well, it all depended on the history and the thermodynamics of ecumenopolis design.
The Nivenian Ecumenopolis only began developing towards its current form during two pivotal occasions - first, the thermonuclear war (which eliminated all that could be considered "nature" on the planet, making domed, climate-controlled cities the norm and ecumenopolisization much more politically appealing in the 670s BNE, and second, the construction of the massive radiator panels all over the planet as the population went into the tens of trillions several centuries later. This meant that for the last four plus centuries, the entire planet of Nivenia Prime was essentially just buildings stacked on top of each other fifteen kilometers high, with giant, superheated radiator panels to dispose of the insane heat generated. This was all largely decentralized, meaning that only about five percent of the planet's surface was actually used for radiation, leading to a higher-than-otherwise radiator temperature of about three thousand degrees kelvin, a temperature only withstandable by ceramic materials. In contrast, more recent ecumenopolisization projects, even those supporting quadrillions, were able to get by with much lower temperatures, on the order of twelve hundred kelvin, at least in the case of Nivenia A12.1, due to the entire planet being owned by a single corporation, which could then run a hyper-efficient heat disposal system covering most of the planet.
In addition, for the past four and a half centuries, the ambient temperature of Nivenia Prime had been controlled by an advisory board in the local planetary government, which rarely, if ever, changed the planet's ambient temperature, and only ever by a tenth of a degree celsius at a time. Case in point, between 10 NE and 40 NE, only one temperature transition actually happened - from 22.5 degrees Celsius to 22.4 degrees Celsius. All in all, over the entire history of the comittee, the planet's ambient temperature was never above 28.2 Celsius, and never below 20.7 Celsius. As the temperature never varies too far from the norm, (even if the atmosphere gets ruined by toxic chemicals for a few days every few decades), most of the machinery on Nivenia Prime would quit working if it got above 40 degrees celsius, and the entire planet's electrical system would have to be turned off if the radiators went offline. So, the way to force a surrender quickly was just to render the radiators unusable. But how could this be done? As it turned out, it could be done by messing with the thermal emmisivity of the ceramic.
The Stefan-Boltzmann law only applies to ideal blackbodies. Due to the second law of thermodynamics, the thermal emmisivity of a material is the efficiency at which it radiates thermal heat energy, and is proportional to its reflectivity on the range of light that it is emitting - doing otherwise could cause a decrease in entropy. Thus, substances that are extremely shiny, like metals, have a much lower thermal emmisivity than subatsnces like ceramics that abosrb most of what hits them. To easily take over Nivenia Prime, the Nivenian government decided to bomb the radiators on the planet with liquid molybdnium - an element with an extremely high vaporization point, that is decently shiny in its liquid form, and thus has an extremely low thermal emmisivity, perfect for ruining radiator panels.
It took all month to scrape together enough molybdnium to pull this off, as the element was decently rare, but by Iunius 60, the metal was ready, and the bombing began. Withing hours the radiators were ruined, and had to be powered off to conserve energy on the surface and prevent further heating, as the radiators had become almost completely ineffective due to the metal. Withing hours of that, the power grid went offline due to a combination of rising temperatures damaging machinery, riots about the bombings, and government interference (they did not want to get baked by their own heat, either). However, if was only a matter of weeks before the planet heated to wholly unbearable levels simply from the waste heat of the Nivenian inhabitants.
Interlude: Intranational Intergovernmental Relations
On Novemex 3, after agruably the worse weather in years on Nivenia Prime, the government that had tenously held onto the planet was now ready for negatiations to begin. These negotiations would take place on a precieved middle ground between the planet and the empire above - the construction site for the replacement to the orbital ring that had been bombed by terrorists just a few short years before. When the negotiations began, the air was tense on both sides - the planetary government was only there because the bombing of the radiator panels had forced their agreement, and they were determined to hold onto every little scrap of their power they could.
However, the policies of the old Nivenian government, now just controlling Nivenia Prime, were largely directly at odds with the policies of the new government, with the former wanting to concentrate power among politicians, and the latter wanting to concentrate it out of the hands of the government and towards the wealthy. This of course meant that negatiations were extremely unproductive, with the two sided typically arguing back and forth multiple times on every issue until the new Nivenian government simply put its metaphorical foot down.
This continued for nearly three weeks, until the new government finally made it claer what it wanted by making the higher-ups of the old government an offer that they would not be able to refuse. Their regime was going to fall anyway - they knew that now, since Nivenia Prime had heated up to nearly unbearable tempertaures by then, with the radiators covered in molybdnium. So, the new Nivenian government just offered them a few teracredits each to leave and shut up. Not suprisingly, they accepted this offer in an attempt to cut their losses. A few teracredits was a pittance compared to the hundreds of petacredits they could have made from Nivenia Prime, but it was enough for an extremely luxourious lifestyle nonetheless. With the old government surrendering, and their higher-ups leaving, the new government proceeded to scrape the molybdnium off of the radiators for use at a later date (fixing the problem with Nivenia Prime), turn the radiators back on, privatize everything they could out of the old government, and begin re-assuming control over Nivenia Prime.
Re-assuming control over Nivenia Prime was easier done for the new Nivenian government than their predecessors - the extensive civil and economic freedoms their new government professed made it a much more achivable proposition to take control of the planet, as it was harder to break the law when there were fewer laws. Additionally, the nivenians that had formerly been oppressed at the beginning of the month under the old government were understandibly happy to be with a new government that had no intents of oppressing them.
The re-assimiltion of Nivenia Prime into the Nivenian economic system allowed for another large boost in prosperity due to the renewal of many jobs in secondary and tertiary industry on Nivenia Prime - during the period of the boycott, manufactured goods had become quite scarce, and the return of the manufacturing sector on Nivenia Prime greatly stimulated the economy. With the Empire (more-or-less) re-unified, the focus could trun back to industry - and what better way to start than with the finishing of the upgrades on Andasium Reductor Four.
Andasium Reductor Four was completed thirteen days ahead of schedule, on Dekemurios 11, 41 NE. This discrepancy was due to the resumption of trade with Nivenia Prime, and subsecuent fall in the price of manufactured goods. With the new upgrades, Andasium Reductor Four would have a 50% higher throughput, being able to synthesize approximately 1.08 sextillion kilograms of andasium per day, now constituting a sizable portion of the gigaquadrant's outpus, and hopefully putting the Nivenian Empire further on the way to being an economic power.
An even more useful factor in the improvements to the andasium reductor was the new secondary power-usage function, a component set added by MegaSuperUltraCorp. As the reductor operated mainly at temperatures above two thousand degrees celsius (and up to four thousand in some areas of it), the possibility of re-using the waste heat emitted by the reductor became a poaaibility. Even with the best Nivenian technology, the reductor was only 50% efficient, so a star-like amount of power was just being lost as waste heat. To take advantage of this, and to centralize the support structure for the Reductor's seventeen quadrillion employees (Who, of course, needed to consume dozens of quadrillions of metric tons of supplies - mostly food - every work-cycle, as the Reductor's employees worked on an eight-month work cycle, so as to allow them to return to their families for four months out of the year, and reduce the load on nearby support infrastructure.), MegaSuperUltraCorp would add massive hydroponics bays to the support structure of the facility, using the waste heat from the facility itself as power. These farms, while they would decrease the cargo load on the station, would employ an additional seven quadrillion people, though, so they would need to operate on their own rotating schedule as well.
To accomodate all of this, the tens of millions of extremely cramped O'Neill cylinders were replaced with literal tens of billions of O'Neill cylinders specialized for different tasks - housing, recreation, hydroponics, etc. While this system could probably be improved further, such improvement would further increase the impact and cost of the project on the Nivenian economy, potentially driving up the cost of labour. For example, while more cylinders could be built for smaller corporations to use to provide services to workers, and to house those who worked for those corporations, such an endeavor would likely end up with 50-100 quadrillion living in the vicinity of Andasium Reductor Four, which would by then be similar to a dyson swarm in population, makeup, and diplomatic influence. This could, if not profitable now, be profitible in the future, though.
On Neochios 6, 41 NE, the Nivenian Diplomatic Department (now called the "NDD" in some circles) sent a communication to a nation called the Jinaris Empire - a militaristic, high-population nation in the Mirus galaxy and the Plazith Rim galaxy. This nation, which fought briefly in the New Spodia Wars on the side of the Purity (it seemed to many as it the politics of the New Spodia Wars still mattered, decades after their de-escalation), was contacted by the Nivenian Diplomatic Department due to a combination of their high population and relatively low agricultural production per capita - as the Nivenian Empire's main exports were food and andasium, trading with the Nivenian Empire would make money on the Nivenian side, and would dramatically reduce the cost of food on the Jinaris side. Thus, the Nivenian Diplomatic Department proposed a deal to the Jinaris Empire - cessation of trading restrictions regarding agricultural products and andasium. It should be noted that they also made it clear that the current Nivenian government had nothing to do with the government during the New Spodia Wars, which itself had very little to do with the temporary stoppage of trade from the Nivenian Empire to all parties who were in the war.
On Neochios 11, the Jinaris Empire got back to the Nivenian Diplomatic Department, agreeing to the proposal, and, following this, MegaSuperUltraCorp immediately began selling food to the Jinaris Empire, to reduce the price of their food and help support their massive population of 17 quadrillion. While this was not a boost to the economy with a magnitude comparable to when the MegaEarth ringworld was ordered, this did augment the economy by over a percent, and boost MegaSuperUltraCorp's profits on its agricultural ventures, which were quickly assimilating more and more land on the ringworlds.
Due to the continuing growth of MegaSuperUltraCorp, the price of arable land was continuously rising. Due to this rise, it had finally become economical again for the Megastructural Construction Corporation to begin construction on a large number of ringworlds. The current 45 ringworlds were no longer enough to support the Nivenian agricultural sector, so plans were made to expand. However, in the past, this expansion was done in large increments, with over a dozen ringworlds built at one in one instance. Now, with a much better understanding of the economic situation in the new Nivenian period of extreme growthrates, the Megastructural Construction Corporation decided after weeks of deliberation that a new approach was needed to maximize the profits generated by these ventures - a new project reflecting a fusion of old and new ideas. This project would start much like any similar, previous operation, with the construction of five new ringworlds, which would take place over three years, from Ianuaria 1, 42 NE to Ianuaria 1, 45 NE.
However, for each year afterwards, one new ringworlds would be constructed. While these would fill up quickly too, even before the system hit its limit of about 70, that would just drive up land prices, making the Megastructural Construction Corporation enough to begin their next projects one after another. While until about 10 NE they would have been concerned about smaller corporations beginning to fill the void created by a limit of land supply, they were now much more confident in their overwhelming market share, and confident that they could wring the agricultural industry for all that it had.
Later, in hindsight, they would see that this was really a terrible business decision, not because the economy would crash or a war would start, but because good competition grows exponentially.
42. A number commonly accepted as the awnser to life, the universe, and everything. For the Nivenian Empire, it was the exact opposite. The awnser to death, war, and weapons of mass destruction. The only consolation was the rapidly declining political presence of the Nivenian Defense Forces, making the usage of this new weapon less-than ideal in politically - something to be greateful for, as this weapon mas simly made from improvised kugelblitz tech from nearly a decade earlier, yet had the power to sterilize a planet.
The combination of Nivenian and Nullian tech that had created kugelblitz reaction engines had a dark side. Although the exhaust was a focused beam, designed for ship-to-ship warfare, it was primarily composed of the zetawatt of ultra-high-energy gamma rays coming from the quantum fire of the burning kugelblitz that powered the drive. This energy peaked at seventy teraelectronvolts. While most simply considered this an interesting curiousity, as the largest particle accelerators in the Nivenian Empire could produce small beams of particles with energies that would make even that pale in comparison, the difference was the sheer power released by the engine.
Seventy teraelectronvolts. While it may sound like technobabble or scientific jargon (and it of course is, but no self-respecting scientist would actually say that), it can be more easily understood (?) if converted into different units. For example, aphoton of seventy teraelectronvolts has a wavelength of 17 zeptometers (which sounds just as technobabbly), or a bit more than a one-hundred-thousanth of the radius of a proton. In comparison, anything with a wavelength less than 10 nanometers is considered at least an X-ray, and thus highly ionizing and dangerous.
Let us take an atom of copper, and apply our photon of seventy teraelectron volts into it. This photon is obviously ionizing, as the energy needed to remove the first electron will be 7.73 electron volts. However, this photon did not even notice that, so it just blazes through the entire atom, rendering every single electron unbound. This uses a higher, but still ridiculously low 45.039 thousand electron volts (less than one-billionth of the photon's energy). The photon then blazes into the nigh-insurmountable fortress of the atom's nucleus, bound by forces a million times stronger than the electrons. This particular atom of copper is an atom of copper-65, with a nucleus bound tightly together by the pion-carried resudual effects of the strong nuclear force. The photon impacts. In an instant, the nucleus is completely unbound, its particles sluggishly moving away after the photon imparted a mere 569.21124 million electron volts - a minute fraction of its potential. But no, the photon was still not done tormenting this hapless atom. The nucleons flee, vainly trying to escape their inevitable fate, but this was not to be. After the transfer of another 115.05 billion electron volts of energy into what is left of the nucleus (a far higher amount of energy than even contained in the atom's rest mass), the nucleons in the remant had shifted to their most energetic known state - N(2700) - and then began their disentigration. After the last of the photon's seventy trillion electron volts of energy flowed into the glob of energetic quark matter, conditions formed similar to the big bang. Top quarks, bottom quarks, strange quarks, and charm quarks; gluons, both the W± and the Z0 bosons, and even the higgs coexisted for a brief instant, followed by the production of uncountable hundreds of thousands of high energy mesons, and tens of millions of electron-positron pairs. Now, you too have seen the destructive power of light. This photon can no longer even be called a gamma ray. It is truly a member of a new regime, on the high end of the electroweak scale of particle physics. A behemoth of the zeptoscopic world.
The Hydra-class Titan was the only ship so far to use this method of propulsion. As it was the second-largest military ship in production in the Nivenian Empire, its engines had to be similarly powerful to secure any degree of manuverability on the battlefield - with a maximum acceleration of 1 m/s^2 when the main engine is on full power. However, as these engines essentially blasted out a one-zetwatt gamma-ray laser, it was essentially viewed by the military for years as a spinal-mounted weapon - one that was almost comically powerful, but a conventional weaponized engine nevertheless. However, on Ianuaria 42, 42 NE, a Nivenian naval officer by the name of Rear-Admiral Bryson Hawkins realized something - if the dispersion on the engine were increased drastically (something that would usually be unfavourable, as the light being emitted in more directions would reduce the effective thrust per unit fuel of the engine), the beam could be set to cover a very wide area, and could be used to paint a good fraction of the surface of a planet with ultra-high-energy gamma rays.
By arranging four ships in a tetrahedron at distances of more than two planetary radii (and potentially distances of over two thousand planetary radii, if the dispersion is at its lowest setting), their rocket exhaust "flames" would cover the entire surface of the planet with the radiation at seventy teraelectron volts discussed before. If all four ships were Hydra-class, and all four had their engines at full power, the planet would be blased with 3.84 zetawatts of this radiation. Even for an extremely large planet with a radius of fifteen thousand kilometers, this would input 1.36 megawatts per square meter of high-energy gamma radiation - enough to sterilize an entire world, providing anything outside with a lethal dose of radiation every hundred milliseconds. Needless to say, Rear-Admiral Bryson Hawkins was shocked to realize this, but, wanting to test his new idea, contacted his superiors, who, after great deliberation, decided to send him to command his fleet in a test of this new operation, by creating a thin mesh of millions of small radiation sensors in the shape of a planet - each sensor containing a sample of biomatter, and having the fleet preform this operation, measuring the damage done both to the radiation detector and the lifeforms, afterwards.
Rear-Admiral Bryson Hawkins performed the test on Ianuaria 58, 42 NE, and all of the biomatter samples were killed. This was seen as a success by some, and a failure by others - the failure to forsee the use of ship engines as planet-killers.
Even at the beginning of Martex the economic reprocussions of the Megastructural Construction Corporation were beginning to cause drastic changes in the habitat market of the Nivenian Empire. As land on ringworlds was starting to get kind of expensive, and planets were already at extremely high land values (with almost everything covered in ecumenopoli by this point, there was not much else left to do - however, there was an opportunity regarding planets that still awaited), a growing number of settlers and those who just left thier parents began to consider the possibility of buying land in, renting from, or cooperating to build habitats in the Nivenian Diffuse Habitat Swarm.
This was creating a bit of an interesting situation for many smaller companies in the Nivenian Empire - as the demand for living space had gone up to the point where building new habitats would be profitable again, the business of habitat construction actually began to esperience a rapid shift in paradigm. Before this point, either ringworlds were cheap enough that habitats would only slowly be made, typically by entities with only the capabilities to make less than a dozen, and back during the golden age of habitat construction before the catastrophic spread of a-viruses in the 110s BNE, there was simply a low enough population that even large corporations could make at most a hundred or so habitats at a time. However, with the now larger population, and the renewed profitibility, a second golden age of the habitat would come to pass, this time with the habitats no longer being constructed by comparitively small construction companies, and even single artisan-entreprenuers, but with the habitats beign manufactured by the tens of thousands. A true age of industry. This trend began in a very incremental way, with the new policy of the Megastructural Construction Corporation simply being the last nail in the coffin of their monopoly, but if there was any date that one could say truly marked the beginning of this new age, it was the announcement of the completion of the Mk. 1 Habitat Hypermanufactorium, created by a new company, Rotifer & Co. Hypermanufacturing Industries.
The Mk. 1 Habitat Hypermanufactorium was completed by Rotifer & Co. Hypermanufacturing Industries on Martex 39, 42 NE. This facility used the materials of all types left over from the various disassemblies of planets that had been preformed by the Nivenian Empire over the previous half-century to manufacture a new line of habitats, for both domestic and international sale. While the Megastructural Construction Corporation had made off with most of the more valuble materials when they preformed their various disassemblies, most of the remainder was sold in return for the capital needed to pay the quadrillions of workers to contruct the ringworlds themselves. As such, and as there were a huge amount of leftover materials that were still perfectly valuable, a secondary market and entire industry had developed over the extraction of valuable resources from these remnants of destroyed planets. Rotifer & Co. Hypermanufacturing Industries was actually originally a company called Rotifer & Co. Resource Extraction and Storage, mining these fragments of destroyed planets. However over time they began to do construction work, and were in the right plance, at the right time, so to speak, to take advantage of the power vaccuum left by the Megastructural Construction Corporation in the wake of their terrible business decision.
This new event had major effects. Not only did Rotifer & Co. Hypermanufacturing Industries begin making a fortune from the sale of these new habitats, but their success began to influence other conpanies in the business of in-space contruction to began producing similar facilities. While this process would take months, it would be the first major step towards a much more populous and politically important Nivenian Diffuse Habitat Swarm, which would in turn fund a new set of corporations on order of magnitude or two smaller than the Megastructural Construction Corporation, but preforming the same role.
With Nivenia Prime having re-established its place as the economic hub of the Nivenian Empire, some interesting things began to happen in terms of the economic conditions on the surface. For centuries the planet had been cooled by an intricate and highly-inefficient system of radiators - due to advances in technology, space infrastructre, and even sheer population size, this would begin to change as well. The change largely started on Iunius 8, when one of the regional cooling corporations figured out a possible new way to cool the planet more effectively, reduce energy usage, and support more orbital infrastructure, at the same time.
This new proposed method was interesting, to say the least. Conventionally, waste heat would be absorbed from the planet using an (traditionally freon) air conditioning system, which would dump heat into the cold side of a series of heat rejection devices using water, mercury, and aluminum as the next three working fluid, in order. However, it might be possible to remove the water and aluminum stages entirely, replacing it with a mercury-based stageing system - the mercury would be heated to a vapor on the ground, and then fed through massive magnetic accelerators channelling it to a facility thousands or even tens of thousands of kilometers above the planet in an insulated tube made from a material such as carbon nanofibres or graphene in order to be capable of being hung from the top. This facility, after absorbing the murcury vaport at hundreds of degrees celsius, could then use the heat from the mercury to power steam engines, and recover much of the energy that was used on the surface to heat the mercury to those temperatures (which would still be far less than the energy that must be expended to heat aluminum to thousands of degrees using the more covnetional method). Even better, by absorbing the mercury from the surface when hot and converting it back into a cold liquid, they would be able to hover over the same spot above the surface of the planet, potentially indefinitely, creating a brand-new location to build habitats as well as dispose of heat.
As a testing venture, the company mustered up the capital required for the first conversion, to be completed through a large-scale construction project between Iunius 20 and Iunius 38, 42 NE. The testing region was to be only a few dozen kilometers wide, but the habitat size that would be able to be supported would be much larger - a habitat several hundred kilometers across, at an altitude of about fifteen thousand kilometers. The experimental constuction project was preformed in a region of the planet far from the three major orbital rings, and was preformed close enough to the poles to avoid hitting any of the infrstructure involved in the massive spheres of McKendree cylinders built a few years prior by the Megastructural Constriction Corporation. After a brief period of mild shareholder disapproval at the percieved expense of the project (which was still a figurative drop in the bucket compared to the company's assets), the project was finally complete - a small region of about a billion and a half on Nivenia Prime were now using only 55% of their energy explicitly for operating cooling systems, instead of the more conventional 92% to 93% loss. However, as it turned out, the orbital station was the true prize. Capable of supporting another 800 million nivenians with no onboard power systems of its own, and with approximately ten times the land area to the original parcel, still in relative proximity to Nivenia Prime, this new parcel of land became a massive source of revenue for the company. With this in mind, shareholder opinion suddenly became overwhelmingly positive, and contruction of more of these projects all over the surface of the planet (or at least all over the two percent or so with heat radiation contracts with the company in question) became extremely commonplace. In the fallout of this remarkable event, other companies would start doing the same, which would continue in expenential growth of resources and contruction throughput for the rest of the month.
This exponential growth phase could not last forever, though, which became painfully apperent after about a million square kilometers a day of the planet was being re-formatted to use the newer cooling system. This became a problem because although the power usage of the planet should have been going down due to the reduced load on cooling systems, it was actually going up due to the rockets, coilguns, and metalworking going on to build the new devices. Eventually, this construction began to overheat the planet, and, on Novemex 6, the entire planet had to go offline for two days after a freon tank exploded and the second-to-lowest cityscape area was flooded with freon gas for two days afterward.
As might be imagined, this caused a panic among the administration of the planet, which immidiately dropped everything to work on a new series of exchangable contruction permits to allocate to the population - everyone would get a relatively small mass allotment for contruction, and the perople that actually wanted to use the permits would then have to pay for them in proportion to the amount of contruction that they wanted to do. This would mean that even during times of extreme demand for contruction permits, there would not be so much contruction to overheat the entire planet. Thus, the contruction stabilized at about a million square kilometers converted per day.
The land being generated at the top of these "Atlas Pillars," as the mass-stream-supported cooling towers were commonly known, was actually some of the most desirible land in the Nivenian Empire, due to its location. While cities kilometers tall did not immidiately form, hundred-story buildings became extremely common, to the point where each square kilometer of Nivenia Prime's surface might support ten square kilometers of land on an atlas pillar (at a variable altitube, between five thousand and twenty thousand kilometers), but those ten square kilometers of land might support two thirds the number of people living on the single square kilometer on the surface.
On Novemex 35, the political problem involving the group of heavily-augmented cyborgs abruptly resurfaced. Roughly a million of the cyborgs that had been rallying for increased rights before had apperently joined together in what appeared to be a large technical and engineering consulting firm, in order to accure economic and policital capital in order to petition for more rights again. However, unlike before, the new government actually did a very good job of handling the problem, by declaring that "the free market will handle it." While this was originally infuriation, the representative from MegaSuperUltraCorp pointed out that the cyborgs had dramatically improved the quality of their own lives, and their economic and political power relative to unaugmented nivenians just by using their newfound intelligence and expertise to open a business, which would of course become extremely succesful while also contributing greatlyto the national economy. After having this explained to them, the majority of the dissenting cyborgs in question actually thought this quite reasonable and ceased being a massive political concern.
The cyborgs that were still dissident decided to colonize the uncolonized brown dwarf Nivenia AB, which no-one had colonized before due to the immense heat, insane gravity field, and extreme radiation levels. Although it was hard, and the cyborgs in question were no numerous, they established would would later be known as the cyborg homeworld on the principles of "transnivenianism" and intelligence augmentation. They seceded from the Nivenian Empire succesfully (mostly because no one really cared what a quarter million cyborgs did with their spare time), and formed their own government on Novemex 47. Although their colony would remain ineffectual for a long time, it would eventually, after more than a decade, transition to being a significant force.
At the beginning of Dekemurios, an interesting, but not wholly unsuprising breakthrough in nivenian technology happened - the advent of commercial-grade 130 nm microchip archetecture. As most of the Nivenian Empire had transitioned slowly from 250 nm archetecture-using microchips to 200 nm archetecture-using microchips after their inception in 17 NE, with most taking ten to fifteen years to make the switch. The adaptation of the first microchip manufacturing plant to use the 130 nm process on Dekemurios 4 would begin this cycle again, with most estimating that the new technology would likely be in full use within thirty years.
Although scientific and technical demonstrations of this technology had been in the works since before 10 NE, they had been until this point prohibitively expensive, until new research allowed economical miniturization.
While this new technology would not really revolutionize anything by itself, it would provide the capability to make personal computers with clock speeds of up to 400 MHz (for the high-end computers), and laptops with as much as 100 MHz of processing power, with the improvements due to better circuitry and the ability to place over ten million transistors, and millions of other electrical components, on a single microchip. Additionally, cybernetics would be drastically improved, with existing cybernetic systems being able to become either half the volume or twice as computationally powerful after the upgrade.
However, this technology is particuarly relevant due to the secondary reprocussions caused by a daughter technology that would be invented soon after - short-range, high bandwidth wireless communication.
The advent of the new processor archetecture actually caused a significant amount of economic upheaval, not unrelated to the fact that the Megastructural Construction Corporation and MegaSuperUltraCorp, as the two largest corporations (by far) in the Nivneian Empire, both immidiately set out trying to implement the technology in their systems before the other. This was largely in an effort to seem more "tehcnologically progressive" to new employees. Both were well aware of the effects the recent population boom was having on the workforce, and both were fighting to the the most ready to harness it. As a result of this situation, which could we called a petty rivalry if both companies involved were not giants of finance, employing quadrillions, the price of the new technology skyrocketed, and practically no other companies were able to buy them at first, mainly due to the backlog of Megastructural Construction Corporation and MegaSuperUltraCorp orders. As a side effect of this, almost all microchip manufacturers began converting (and expanding their operations) immidiately, to attempt to secure a share of the market while the getting was good and the two largest corporations in Nivenian history tried to outspend each other.
To elaborate on the effects the population boom was having on the workforce, it must first be noted that the boom in question had been in constant effect since even before first contact in 20 NE, and had been producing hundreds of quadrillions of nivenians. As during 42 NE and onwards some of these nivenians were beginning to finish university, there had begun an insanely powerful influx of skilled labour. While there had been a similar (and even larger, as some might argue) boom in the amount of unskilled labour, the skilled labour in particular was a massive prize to any corporation able to take advantage of the influx of potential employees.
This provided an incentive for the Megastructural Construction Corporation and MegaSuperUltraCorp to engage in what would otherwise be reckless spending - due to the possibility of being seen as the "most innovative" large company being a major selling point to potential employees, whoever won this seemingly meaningless competition would actually get a massive boost to their skilled labour workforce, allowing them to seize a massive economic boom, and harness the growth that was pervasive in the Nivenian Empire.
The invention of high-bandwidth wireless communication (similar to that known by some as "Wi-Fi") would be seen by some to have been an inevitable consequence of the increasing sophistication of electronics. However, the amount of reprecussions this technology would have to a society already as adept in technology as the nivenians would create a massive economic and technological shift that would span decades, and lead to several revolutions in multiple industries - something that would continue to fuel the massive population and industrial growthof the Nivenian Empire.
The version of wireless communication commericalized on Neochios 33 was of similar capability levels to the IEEE 802.11a-1999 protocols developed on Earth at the end of the twentieth century. The two sets are of course not identical, with the Nivenian version operating on a higher frequency, and with slightly higher power levels, but at the same time less prone to errors. The two protocols also had much the same bitrate, rangine from about a megabit per secont to several dozen megabits per second.
It is debateable whether or not the aforementioned technological revolution would have indeed happened if the Megastructural Construction Corporation and MegaSuperUltraCorp were not trying to outdo each other in using the latest technology - both immidiately adopted the wireless protocols, and begun condusting test runs in several of their respective data processing centers to see if the technology could be used to improve network effectiveness and/or user accesibility of the computer systems in these sites.
Two major uses were seen soon after this technology was introduced - the first being backup computer coordination. As wired networks could sometimes go in and out of operation, computers being used to preform subroutines of a larger program being run on thousands of parellel servers will sometimes lose their connection and wind up a step out of tune from the rest of the server farm where they are residing. This is frustrating since often all of the results of a number of parellelized subroutines are nessesary to send the next set of instructions to all of the subcomputers, and can lead to random delays in computation time, slowing down the evaluation of large problems by as much as several percent sometimes. With the use of a backup wireless network router (or several) connected to an extremely reliable and long-lasting source of power (such as a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, or a betavoltaic device) and an antenna, a network connection can be maintained for even through hardline interruptions for the sending of low-bandwidth data such as instructions, results of subroutines, and the like. While a hardline connection would still be required for major software updates and the downloading of new programs, having a continous connection would no longer be absolutely vital.
The second major use of the new high-bandwidth wireless communication technology was not invented until Ianuaria 8, 43 NE due to its innovativeness - the mobile datastream. Most accurately described as an item halfway in-between a smartphone and a laptop, mobile datastreams were invented by the Megastructural Construction Corporation in order to help employees use the new wireless network to extract data from servers that would not otherwise be convienient. The first iteration of this device, weighing about two hundred grams, had a download bitrate of approxmately five megabits per second, and a similar upload bitrate. While this early device was only designed to work as a mobile computer terminal for use inside the Megastructural Construction Corporation's gigantic server farms, its success at its function prompted many other companies to start issuing similar devices to their employees. While these devices would never become ubiquitous, they would become an extremely valuable method of data transfer and access, due to their small size, avalibility, and their ease of monitoring. By a month after they were introduced, there were already a full trillion of them in circulation, and that number would double every month for the next year after that.
Strangely, nothing of interest happened on Martex. It was quite a quiet month.
On Iunius 20, 43 NE, another major change occured in Nivenian Data transfer. Due to the increasing popularity of the mobile datastream, various Nivenian networks were being taxed more and more by data lookups. While this was causing massive improvements in the efficiency of various data archival facilities, it was also beginning to push the limits of the commonly-used Nivenian copper wiring. This sparked a technological development that should, and would, have happened centuries before had the computer network not been invented when the Nivenians were already distributed over many planets and dozens of habitats - the use of superconducting materials as cables. The nivenian to figure this out, Veronica Wilcox, immidiately founded her own corporation to research and promote the matter. A shrewd entrepreneur, she designed her new brand of network cables to be as impervious to reverse-engineering as possible, by including chemicals that would switch to a form capable of degrading the superconductor if exposed to air or water to prevent tampering, and keeping the actual design of the cables a secret, even from most of her own employees. To fool those who would determine that the cable was just made of graphene by its superconducting properties, Wilcox included a few picoohms of reisitance midway through the lines to throw them off.
The new corporation, Wilcox Chemicals, immidiately experienced extremely rapid growth due to the popularity of the new superconducting cables, doubling reoughly every two weeks. Ms. Wilcox was a relatively wealthy individual even before her invention, with a fortune of several Megacredits, but she had a full gigacredit of net worth by the end of the month due to the expansion. Additionally, this burst of frantic computer uprading quickly began a feedback loop with the mobile datastream technology from a couple of months before - as one grew more prevalent, the other became more financially sound, and vice-versa, which was one of the major reasons why mobile datastreams were rising in prevalence so quickly. Notably, Ms. Wilcox did recognize that her business model and constant expansion would only work until the technology of superconducting data transfer cables had proliferated - thus, she began work on systems that would be both novel and nessesary after this minor "network revolution" was over.
These feedback loops were having a profound impact on the economy due to the more streamlined data archival and recovery, and faster, less expensive simulations. The Nivenian Economic Boom of the late '30s and 40s NE, already well underway, was only strengthened by this outcome, which also contributed to the feedback loop of stronger economies causing more investment, which would then cause stronger economies. The Nivenian Economy, having recovered from a series of two quite bloody wars and a particuarly bloody terrorist attack as well, had its recovery greatly strengthened by foriegn investment due to the nation's Andasium synthesis techniques, and the boom afterwards was the effect of multiple such feedback loops taking effect at the same time.
On Novemex 5, the Megastructural Construction Corporation made a public announcement regarding their current network of Andasium reducing equipment. "While the production of Andasium has been a major economic boom to our nation, our analysis shows that our andasium manufacturing had reached its limits due to a lack of customers willing to purchase it." While the aforementioned speech contained about half an hour's worth of supplementary material, the basic premise was quite simple - supply and demand. With Nivenian andasium production maing up more than five percent of the [andasium economy], the demand for andasium had temporarily reached its limit. Before any more facilities dedicated to its manufacture could be made, or existing ones improved and expanded upon, the Megastructural Construction Corporation and prospective competitors would have to wait for either Andasium to become more prevalent on the domestic scale (for example, as the use of Andasium to power automobiles becomes more prevalent and the population grows), or the gigaquadrantic usage to grow either due to increased usage or a growing population.
Wilcox Chemicals was also starting to expand into other related areas. Still riding the boom of superconducting network cables, Wilcox Chemicals began its software development branch, named Wilcox Software Products. While at the moment completely funded by the main company, Wilcox Software Products would proceed to hire the finest programmers in the Nivenian Empire to develop more efficient sorting and archival software in the new age of wireless networks and instant information access via mobile datastreams. While these networks were still almost entirely limited to single facilities, the differences in the scale of the lag times between the different components had changed in a way that would make the current programs obselete, and make new programs with different optimization procedures and task management systems optimal. This new branch o the corporation officially began on Novemex 33, but had employed over a hundred thousand programmers (many being sourced from employmeny by rival software platforms, and taking heir knowledge, secrets, and expertise with them) by Novemex 43, just ten days after it was founded, due to the funding it was recieving.
On Dekemurios 8, some of the various colonists in the Caeruleo system had begun to inforporate the various new technologies, which of course lead to an economic boom in Caeruleo similar to the one in Nivenia. However, all of the recent improvements in computation created an interesting possibility that some computer-oriented corporations in the system could not overlook - trying to cover the entire surface of a planet with computers in a new form of research-oriented ecumenopolis.
This proposal was quite financially and politically attractive to many, as the only thing that the Caeruleo system could not locally produce was research and new technologies, which had to be imported from the Nivenia system for the cost of 25% of their star's luminosity - which was more than two orders of magnitude more energy that the entire Nivenia System locally produced! By covering a planet in computers, potentially hundreds of meters, or even kilometers, thick, powering it with fusion reactors, and staffing it with immigrants from either the Nivenia system or outside the empire, in order to eliminate this dependency.
So, a group of seven of the twelve largest such corporations in the Caeruleo system began planning their project. Together, they would only be able to muster two hundred trillion workers, so it was decided to involve three cloning corporations to manufacture more workers as the project progressed. While this would eventually put a strain on the system's food production, refraining from any sudden, drastic population shifts would be effective at preventing a shortage, as any shortage would cause an increase in prices, which would then make farming a more attractive industry.
Meanwhile, the the Nivenia system, though the computer upgrades everywhere were still in full swing, Wilcox Chemicals was investing more and more of its money into Wilcox Software Products, which was quickly becoming a significant corporation in the region. It had decided to use a less-commonly-used method of marketing to make money from its software systems - each of the software instances would require a unique activation code to activate every month, which would have to be continually paid-for by the customer. This had two major benefits - first, the ability to extract a small monthly fee from each customer would make the company less dependent upon constantly finding new customers to sell their product, but updating and improving their product to make the subscription more attractive than the alternatives, over time. The process of going out of business, therefore, would be slow and less reactive to volatile short-term shifts in the economy. In addition, the lack of a front payment would mean that customrs would see the monthly payment and likely compare it to the one-time payments offered by other firms, leading them to the delusion that Wilcox Software Products' software was cheaper. After considerable work, the first generation of Wilcox Software (software from Wilcox Software Products) had come out, mainly consisting of basic operating systems and data management and archival tools.
Wilcox Software Products became a huge success, for both adaptions in their business model and reasons not well understood at the time. By Neochios 14 it had sold a trillion copies of high-value commercial software packages (which were typically as expensive as the hardware involved), and had outstripped Wilcox Chemicals in terms of profit made per day, even if Wilcox Chimicals had still made more in total. This trend continues, with the new software being quite efficient on the new models of archival facilities using mobile datastreams as terminals.
The presice reasons for this were not known by the general public, but Wilcox Software Products was actually incorporating a form of proto-artificial intelligence that traded most of its capabilities for a streamlined system, and was essentially an extremely creative yet non-sentient intuitive solution generator. This was by no means the entire program on any of the programs, but much of the remainder was dedicated to safety, interpreting the results, conventional tasks to augment the creativity engine, discusing the proto-artificial intelligence so that no-one would notice or complain, and so forth, essentially a giant virtual support structure. This allowed for increased program efficincy over the less sophisticated designs, but a slightly higher variation in that efficiency - the central "creativity core" could come up with an exceptionally good, or bad, idea from time to time.
The various Caeruleo corporations considering the possibility of constructing a planet-scale computer eventually decided that moon Caeruleo 7.3 would be the best candidate, for reasons not the least of which being that the moon's current owners were not particuarly financially powerful, and could thus be bought off for relatively small sums. After this was taken care of, the Caeruleo corporations in question began to source the materials for their construction from the various small moons orbiting Caeruleo 7 that were not large enough to be considered full planetoids.
Interestingly, these corporations, hearing of the improved efficincy of Wilcox Software Products, decided to try using it to gain another edge over their competitors. This lead to the software being incorporated on all levels of their planetary computer, installed during construction, and greatly improving efficincy because of it. While it would likely take them a full year to complete the project, possibly more, the new computer would likely be every bit as powerful in terms of computational ability as the sum of all of the research complexes on Nivenia Prime, but would likely be able to outperform Nivenia Prime in research capabilities due to both its more interconnected nature, and the efficincies that would be gained from the incorporation if Wilcox Software Products. The one serious issue with the whole project, however, which no-one actually realized due to the mutual confidentiality of both Wilcox Software Products' efficincy improvement methods, and the purpose for which the corporations building the planetary computer in Caeruleo. As mentioned before, the software developed by Wilcox Software Products was quite novel, and as such unstable - even without mentioning the restrained, but creative artificial intelligence inside. As such, it was tested and designed for systems that only used one copy of it, not trillions like the planetary computing complex in Caeruleo. With trillions of restrained artificial intelligences, a single malfunction could cause one to "consume" the others, possibly creating a gargantuan, unstable superintelligence spanning a planet.
At the beginning of 44 NE, there was a coup in the upper echelons of the government. This coup was actually quite well-planned, and was essentially a group of individuals that had formerly worked for the Megastructural Construction Corporation bribing most of the officials on government buildings to call in sick on Ianuaria 3, 44 NE, and then marching right into the building, shooting everyone who did not immidiately declare their loyalty to the new regime, and then declaring themselves to be in charge to the rest of the empire via press conferences on major new networks.
The reason the coup was able to play out so smoothly was the general uptick in sentiment that the 30 NE decision to change the temperature of Nivenia Prime from 22.5 Celsius to 22.4 Celsius had been under bad leadership, was not authentic, and should have been reversed. The temperature increase notably caused the radiators a 0.037% drop in energy efficincy instead of the expected drop of 0.034% in enegry efficincy. Several lawsuits were claimed to have happened, claiming that the radiators being used did not have valid warrenties below 22.45 Celsius, but supposedly none of them actually made it to court because of widespread bribery in the regime. When closely examined, this is beliveable enough for most Nivenians, and is not suprising, but when the fact that almost every Nivnian regime since the founding of the Autocracy of Northwest Sunside almost eight and a half centuries before engaged in widespread bribery is taken into account, it really does not say anything bad about the regime. Still, many nivenians belived it, enough so that a few dozen rouge agents with enough money could bribe the gaurds, march into the most important government buildings, and seize power without too much hassle, and without too many questions asked about their legitimacy.
In their press conference, they claimed that they were the "real" government of the Nivenian Empire, and emphasized that they would do everything in their power to rasie the temperature of Nivenia Prime back to 22.5 Celsius, "like it was supposed to be, and had been for hundreds of years!," according to their press conference. They expressed in interest not to change anything else, even the other laws that were made by the "illigitimate government" around the same time as the change in Nivenia Prime's temperature, so it is likely that they are a single-issue party with some alterior motive for the temperature change.
The various megacorporations, including the Megastructural Construction Corporation, MegaSuperUltraCorp, and the now-corporate entity that used to be the Nivenian Board of Technology, were remarkably unfazed by this change in power, mainly because the issue they were fighting over was so inconsequential, and they did not plan to change anything else. So, these corporations just continued on their way without paying the new government any mind, since it was effectively the same as the old government.
By Martex, 44 NE, the computation boom the previous year was beginning to draw to a close, although Wilcox Chemicals continued to make reduced profits from maintenance and repair of their systems, as well as natural population and economic growth, even after the boom. Wilcox Chemicals and Wilcox Software merged at this point to create one company, Wilcox Industries, which was now making an enourmous profit from the small amounts of rent being paid by the companies that owned hundreds of trilions of copies of various editions of their software, all over the empire.
By shrewd investment, and exploitation of market forces, Veronica Wilcox had gone from being a mid-level manager in a large corporation to running her own large conglomerate, with hands in multiple different industries, and making a stable income of over five teracredits per day just from software rentals. Other than that, she was making seven teracredits per day from manufacturing things that were needed to grow the economy and population, and a similarly large but fluctating sum from the volatilities of the recent small technological boom.
On Iunius 2, 44 NE, a new message came from the Universal Discussion Board, encoded in a stranger way than even most of the other encrypted messages that sometimes come in. JOmnivore and Intergalactic Traveler JBot from the JCompany immidiately began trying to decipher the message, and pinpointed its source to the Mirus Galaxy, a galaxy in the first Gigaquadrant quite far from Cyrannus. This illicited a responce of some form, still undecypherable, with what appeared to be slight changes in the pattern of the signal - the addition of the unencrypted text "NEDD."
This suggested that the signal was encyrpted on-purpose, meaning it was likely the hyperspace equavalent of a ham-radio operator, trying to test the decryption capabilities of the nations of the gigaquadrant. JBot managed shortly afterward to decypher more of the code, revealing the text "NEDD HURKE JUUM KREE UKIL NEDD ~ SKRAKK ~ MEJS ~ HORKEL." After some more study, Genius JCreepy got involved with the project as well. This was followed by the comment of Dr. Nu'Iva Shal that "The word 'NEDD' could refer to the Abyssian word 'NAHDD', which means 'earth' or 'ground.'" Dr. Shal and Genius JCreepy then discussed the source of the transmission, and concluded that due to Abyssal's status as an "extremely old dialect and all of its speakers are either long dead or extraplanar entities that aren't much for conversation outside of professing how much they hate us for existing," in Dr. Shal's words, and the lack of such beings in Mirus, concluding that, again in the words of Dr. Shal, "either the source of the message is recently space faring civilization, or an older civilization that is only just now coming to the forefront of the pan-gigaquadrantic community."
The unknown transmitter responded to this, with the unnessesarily cryptic message of "THINK WORDS MANY NEGATIVE-POSITIVE PATTERN - MANY SMALL CIRCLE CIRCLE FOUR FAR FIRE NEDD GIVE GOOD MANY, SPEAKER NEDD, SKRAKK, MEJS, HORKEL." After careful thought, Dr. Shal pointed out that the phrase "CIRCLE FOUR FAR FIRE" could mean the fourth planet from a star, implying that the transmitter was both located on a single planet and willing to share information about that location. Genius JCreepy then pointed out that 800 billion stars in Mirus would need to be searched.
After careful observation, and Genius JCreepy trying to convine Intergalactic Traveller JBot to try to search all eight hundred billion stars in Mirus, NP-L2-ASI01 of the Nivenian Empire commented that that was actually not nessesary - if they could tell that the signal was in Mirus, then it must have had some kind of directionality. While NP-L2-ASI01 was certainly not an expert in these fields, any directionality could be exploited. As such, NP-L2-ASI01 suggested sending probes to various locations in and around Mirus to get a refined directionality, and to narrow down the patch of space the signal could be in. By doing this enough times, it should be possible to find the signal's point of origin, and it would probably take less than a dozen iterations needing four probes each, as opposed to the eight hundred billion actions that would be needed to search the entire galacy of Mirus to find the correct star. However, this plan was dependent on the nature of the hyperspacial directionality measurement system, so it was not garunteed.
Around Novemex 19, NP-L2-ASI01 decided that its systems were falling behind the new computer revolution, and began working on upgrading itself. Since many of its original components were speciality, and a good portion of its system was stored by voltages in analog nanocomparators, this would be a lengthy process, akin to replacing neurons in human brains. Thankfully, as NP-L2-ASI01 was built rather than grown, it would be able to be partially disassembled without completely ceasing operation, allowing small components to be replaced gradually over time, and allowing a sort of gradual upgrading without loss of continuity.
NP-L2-ASI01 got the funds for this from its various occupations, as the representative of the Nivenian Imperial Diplomatic Department, as a consultant for both the Megastructural Construction Corporation and the Nivenian Board of Technology, by managing smaller businesses it had started on the side, and by investing the money it had previously made. The upgrades would cost over a Petacredit, but NP-L2-ASI01 had the required funds. The upgrade process would take approximately a year, but delays could cause it to take longer.
Replying to NP-L2-ASI01's suggestion, Intergalactic Traveller JBot agreed that that would be a useful searching technique, although the message was oddly intermingled with Intergalactic Traveller JBot deciding to get a new implant from Genius JCreepy, to "understand [JCreepy's] ironic jokes," for some reason. The unknown signal then responded with a message conveyed in "a combination of pictograms and audio automatically translated into a more readable form," in the words of the Universal Discussion Board translation team, which said: " WE ARE SNEDDAN, WE ARE MANY TO SPACE WE SEND OUR MESSAGE: WE OFFER OUR TITHE OF TEETH TO THE STARS, MAY YOU GIVE GREAT HARVESTS/HUNTS IN OUR TIME OF NEED. PRAISE NEDD, HE GIVES GOOD." Unfortunately, an explanation of many of the included terms was not avalible - such as "tithe of teeth," which could mean anything from a religious ritual to a jar of discarded body parts, "time of need," which, again, could mean anything from a religious event to an economic depression to a mass extinction, and "nedd," which would seem to be either their ruler or a historial or religious figure to them.
After several weeks of searching, and gradually homing in on their star system using the signal, Intergalactic Traveller JBot found the system and planet in question, and cunducted a survey of the creatures now known as the Sneddans. They were found to be in the late tribal level of development, with a network of warring kingdoms on their planet. Intergalactic Traveller JBot then contacted Genius JCreepy, and they decided to pre-emptively place a structure called a monolith on their planet, which apperently "might help their harvesting and hunting, I guess," in the words of Genius JCreepy.
Once NP-L2-ASI01 recieved the results of the survey from Intergalactic Traveller JBot and Genius JCreepy, it replied with three suggestions regarding a further examination of the planet - as something extraordinary was definitely going on for a tribal apecies to develop hyperspace communications - a technology that had to be gifted to the Nivenians upon entering the gigaquadrantic community, even though the Nivenians at the time were pretty close to having full Dyson spheres around both of their suns! Three surveys were proposed. 1. First, NP-L2-ASI01 proposed an examination of the planet's heat signature, "to see if there is a large underground (or otherwise hidden) civilization that could be much more advanced." A large hidden civilization would explain the Sneddans' apparent lack of technology combined with their hyperspace communications system. 2. Second, NP-L2-ASI01 proposed an examination of the hygiene and medical theory posessed by the Sneddans, to see if it matched the expected amounts for their level of development, as "if they are deliberately not using a large wealth of technology, medicinal theory - especially personal hygiene - would be the last thing they would ditch. Advanced knowledge in this department would suggest that they were an advanced civilization turned techno-primitive by choice." 3. Third, NP-L2-ASI01 proposed an examination of any extraneous technology found on the planet, as "their hyperspace communications may have been reverse-engineered, which would imply prior extraplanetary contact." This would also explain the disparity in technological progress.
On Neochios 26, 44 NE, the population of the loose Dyson swarm of various habitats surrounding the primary of the Nivenia System exceeded a hundred quadrillion, where it had been less than ten quadrillion not twenty years earlier. This extreme growth, while partially explainable by the explosive population growth and economic boom in the Nivenia System, not to mention the advent of cloning technology, was caused by the application of mass-produced graphene and carbon nanotubes to continent-scale habitat design after a new method for its production created a drastic decrease in price. This had caused a massive boom in habitat growth at the continent-scale, which in turn created a larger market for habitats of smaller sizes. This caused the Megastructural Construction Corporation, which had held a near-monopoly on land construction for centuries, to start losing their hold on the production of new land due to the competition of smaller corporations building habitats that, while much smaller than full ringworlds, could be built much less expensively, even per unit surface area. The catch was that these habitats were much higher maintainance due to the smaller biosphere size, but given the massive populations of the Nivenia System, this would be of little concern.
In an attempt to retain its hold on the industry for another, the Megastructural Construction Corporation decided to finally build the remaining ringworlds possible around the Nivenia system's primary after the announcement of the milestone of the Dyson swarm. To reduce the contruction costs, these ringworlds would use relatively useless silicon oxide as the "ballast" needed for the outer ring demanded by the active support required. The recent disassembly of several planets had yielded large amounts of silicon oxide, which, unlike materials such as magnesium, aluminum, carbon, iron, or other commonly used metals, did not have any good uses, and is not a good structural material, being for that reason relatively inexpensive.
As such, the Megastructural Construction Corporation planned to construct thirty new ringworlds around the system primary, which would increase the total number of ringworlds from the current 45 to 80 (if one includes the five ringworlds to be finished on Ianuaria 1, 45 NE), and be able to support enough conventional farmland to support another several hundred quadrillion Nivenians. This would be a huge project, employing tens of quadrillions of employees, and it would likely take years. Conservative estimates ranged from five to ten years for the timeline of the project's construction, while more optimistic schedules predicted construction times of two of four years - a long project either way.
At the same time, megastructures larger than planets were also beginning to arise, albeit slowly, in the loose Dyson swarm of the system's primary, simply due to growing trade relations between the new habitats. As habitats became more mutally dependent on inter-habitat trade, some would form voluntary organizations of multiple habitats, to form loose trading coalitions with enough economic power to order the construction of massive projects wholesale. The most succesful of these would then become more attractive, and grow even more, creating a few gargantuan stations composed of thousands of continent-scale McKendree cylinder habitats or similar structures (which would be the same size as one of the smaller ringworlds around the Nivenia System's secondary), and hundreds of smaller (but still planet-sized) conglomerations. The largest of these had populations of over a quadrillion, and populations of tens or hundreds of trillions were not uncommon, mainly due to their high population densities compared to the mostly-agrarian ringworlds. While many others (even a majority, by some calculations) did not join these trading coalitions, and became isolationist (and in many instances quite xenophobic as well), there was enough production of these habitats that more trading coalitions were always forming, and those that had already formed were always growing in size, power, and influence.
At the beginning of Ianuaria, 45 NE, on the first day of the new year, the Megastructural Construction Corporation finished their next five ringworld, bringing the total number up to fifty. At the same time, the Megastructural Construction Corporation began work on their next thirty, using every way they knew of to improve efficiency of the construction. This new project was gigantic, but no new technology was used, and the greater scale of the project was mainly acheived by increasing the project's inputs.
Interestingly, the land from the five new ringworlds was bought up in record time by various oligarchs who had spent extra money to pre-order the land in massive peices (sometimes the size of planets, or even larger!). These oligarchs would then sell the land in much smaller plot sizes to smaller corporations, individual farmers, and families, making exorbanant sums in the process. The Megastructural Construction Corporation had assumed that land would have a roughly similar value to the land that they had sold before. However, but due to the exponential nature of nivenian population growth, the increase in the rate of growth of this exponential growth due to the advent of cloning, and growth-focused groups getting political power over technology-focused groups, and the corresponding growth of property values as land became more expensive, the vaue of the land was actually much higher than the Megastructural Construction Corporation thought it would, allowing individuals with large reserves of money to profit off of the difference, making as much as a zetacredit off of the endeavour. The Megastructural Construction Corporation noted this, and decided to raise their land prices on future ringworlds.
Genius JCreepy noted that NP-L2-ASI01's suggestions were valid, and that the use of a JCompany monolith would create a friendly culture that would be more amenable to conducting detailed planetary studies, and less likely to view such actions as acts of war. Genius JCreepy then noted that such studies could be conducted after the reaction of the Sneddans to the JCompany monolith was determined - verification of friendly intentions would be extremely helpful to any planetary studies.
The sneddans then sent another message - this one decypherable compared to previous messgaes - but still written in completely capitalized text for some odd reason. This message began with an odd greeting, refering to the various space empires as "angels of Nedd's heaven." The rest of the message was largely formatted as pseudo-religious gibberish, but included enough relevant information for its meaning to be decyphered. The sneddans apperently found the messages exchanged on the Universal Discussion Board to be "alien." They then said that they would be sending an individual referenced as "a disciple of the prophet" to something called "the vessel of the ancient heathens," which presumably is refering to a spacecraft of some form. The sneddans then declared that as the space nations had seen "their fervent worship," they would not need "an ancient message contained [on their] structure of life," which could mean a message in their DNA, implying that they were at some point designed by another species. The sneddans then inquired as to the nature of the JCompany monolith placed on their planet.
On Martex 3, 45 NE, after some slight delays, the organization of corporations in the Caeruleo system designing the computer system for Caeruleo 7.3, now termed "the Caeruleo 7.3 Moon-Brain," or C7MB for short, completed their project. The organization, now calling itself the "Caeruleo Computational Consortium," or 3C, was planning to active their machine to use for attempting to build a research facility able to compete with the Nivenia Prime Ecumenopolis. While they did not yet have the population needed to staff the system, they had enough manpower to turn pieces of the new supercomputer on to start generating new research. So, on Martex 9, after verification and some minor debugging, they began to turn on their machine.
As they turned on the machine step-by-step due to the lack of qualified researchers, and only activated isolated pockets of it, they were able to temporarily avoid a catastrophe caused by the Wilcox software's inherent istability. As the planet was covered in ten kilometers of machinery, increasing its radius, and cooling systems had been installed to make sure that the planet did not overheat due to its computers, with a hot side temperature of just over 1200 K, the planet would be able to use approximately 1.2 exawatts of usable work if its fusion reactors were operating at full capacity. Using most of this power to support massive computational banks, the planet would still house a hundred trillion researchers when at optimal capacity. Food would of course be imported, and administrative non-research functions would be performed from faraway orbital stations when operating in this state. Because of the relatively small population of the Caeruleo system at the time (only around 15 to 20 quadrillion), only about 5 trillion researchers were able and avalible to begin working in the complex immidiately. Still, this was an appriciable fraction of the research output of Nivenia Prime, which only supported around 80 trillion research positions. Unless Nivenia Prime had an unexpected boost in its research (unlikely due to its political instability and the growth of the Dyson swarm in relation to that of the planetary civilizations), it would be surpassed by the new Caeruleo 7.3 Moon-Brain as soon as the latter was able to operate at full capacity. In the meantime, however, the facility's research provided several instant benefits to the 3C organization, mainly in the form of improved production efficiency due to better supply chain management.
NP-L2-ASI01 took note of this, and publically stated that 3C was abusing Wilcox software, due to operating it outside of standard procedures - however NP-L2-ASI01 was not able to clearly prove the problem toa nontechnical audience. Even so, it was viewed by the software community as a less severe issue, as NP-L2-ASI01 had only showed that 3C's use of Wilcox software was capable of causing an unpredictable chain reaction, not that it was likely. This doubt of the validity of the problem at various levels of society was also reinforced by 3C's public relations department, which lobbied media outlets to downplay the issue.
After the construction at Caeruleo 7.3 was complete, the amount of immigration to the caeruleo system, especially at high relativistic speeds, increased dramatically. Before the construction had been completed, only a minority of the population had taken it seriously, with a majority viewing it as a doomed project with the sole benefit of stimulating the Caerulean economy. This had caused the increase to immigration processes to be very slow, as few truly belived that the project would create new jobs after it was completed. However, the project's success shifted this viewpoint, with those who doubted the structure's capability before realizing that the 3C organization had more funds than they thought, and that they had the capability, will, and resources to maintain the facility after completion, creating the promised jobs. Even so, the realization took nearly a month to "sink in," and there would never be an immigration to the Caeruleo system in mass, as the created jobs, while substantial, were still much smaller than the system's population. In addition, most of these jobs were professional and highly technical, to the point where most of those qualified for the jobs were either rooted in place by the demands of their current career or family life, or were making amounts of money not commonly made by researchers. For these reasons, Caeruleo 7.3 would not be fully habitated for years, which actually may have been a benefit to the 3C organization, given their unstable computational methods. However, the addition of efficinncy and opportunities for specialized employment did lead to a large boom in university construction in the Caeruleo system, to the point where the system was projected to exceed the Nivenia system in researchers per capita.
There was a major side effect to all of this, though - the formation of a Caerulean nationalist (or systemist) movement, against the rest of Nivenian Civilization. While Paulo Fluctus Beta was colonized before Caeruleo, Caeruleo had always had a stronger regional identity due to their natural resources - namely, their larger, B-type star - which provided the vast majority of Nivenian energy. The only reason why such a movement had not bee held sooner was the nature of the system as newly colonized, which meant that very few adults had actually been born in the system. However, with the combination of the advent of cloning (which could quickly produce fully-formed adults), and with a growing subsection of young nivenians in their teens or early twenties, Caeruleo was quickly forming a nationalist movement, which, due to the now strongly multipartisan nature of the nivenian oligarchic system, was able to quickly emerge as a rising power in the region. While even by 45 NE they did not control the systsem by any means, they had growing influence, and were quite an attractive proposition for nivenian youth in Caeruleo.
Another factor contributing to this new party's fomation was the new attitudes of the Nivenian Empire toward immigration. While the nivenian species was populous enough, even in the "outer" systems, that immigrants would never be a serious fraction of the population, many nivenians, especially in Caeruleo, were strongly opposed to the idea. Although they were able to block parts of Caeruleo from alien immigration, some more xenophilic parts of the system opened their borders to several billion alien immigrants, which strongly displeased pro-nivenian and pro-caerulean factions alike. From these catalysts, a new alliance was forming between pro-nivenians, pro-caeruleans, youth with a thirst for action, and those unhappy about the use of massive amounts of caerulean energy by the nivenia system due to the dyson swarm being owned by massivecorporations headquartered in the Nivenia System was forming. This new alliance supported the new political party, which termed itself the "Caeruleo National Organization," or CNO (This was a reference do the dominant type of nuclear fusion in the Caeruleo System's star, also used in almost all nivenian power plants empirewide - perhaps to symbolize their "power.").
After no major delays, NP-L2-ASI01 managed to upgrade its infrastructure to the new technology. This allowed for a twofold increase in processing capability, and a similar increase in research speed. However, due to advances in random access memory, NP-L2-ASI01 was also now able to hold much more information in thought at the same time. This new ability, combined with the increased processing speed, allowed NP-L2-ASI01 to solve several complicated problems in its current research on basic spacetime engineering. Notably, this allowed for easy access to solutions to several complicated problems that had been partially developed in the eighteen years NP-L2-ASI01 had already worked on the problem, but did not account for any major breakthroughs on its own. However, these new capabilities would allow some of the more complex parts of the technology to be pursued ahead of schedule, which would allow for the research to go roughly four times more quickly - finishing sometime in 46 NE (according to NP-L2-ASI01's estimates), instead of the previously calculated date of Martex 49 NE.
On Dekemurios 23, 45 NE, third-generation kugelblitz technology was finally developed and commercialized by the now-independent Nivenian Board of Technology. Although the massive political problems throughout the empire, and their breakaway from the Nivenian Imperial Government causing a loss of funding had severely hampered their research efforts, they had been some of the first adopters of the new 130 nm transistor archetecture in their computational systems, and had effectively and quickly used the benefits provided by Wilcox industries in the form of both cheap superconducting cables and computer software archetecture.
While these changes had been expensive, the Nivenian Board of Technology had used its now-limited funding on them to prevent itself from becoming obselete, and, to a lesser extent, for the cultural significance of the new technology's development (as scientific progress had been extremely relevant for the Nivenian culture for centuries). This had dramatically paid off, though, with their research speed improving nearly threefold, and the patents from the side technologies that they had developed in the years between the invention of 130 nm transistor archetecture and the discovery of third-generation kugelblitz technology had more than paid off the expenses. However, the discovery, patenting, and publishing of third-generation kugelblitz technology was enough income for the Nivenian Board of Technology to pay even its now-inflated expenses for a decade or more - the Nivenian Board of Technology had always resulted in a positive monetary gain for the Nivenian government while it was part of it, but only because of the few random, valuable discoveries made every few decades, which far outweighed the annual maintainence costs of the organization and its research. Now that the now-independent board had a stockpile of monetary resources, though, it would likely be able to continue funding itself indefinitely.
The technolgies discovered were as important, economically, militarily, and politically, as those in the first and second generations of kugelblitz technology, if not more. First, of all, a major limiting factor for commercial kugelblitz reactors in the Nivenian Empire, ever since kugelblitz technology was invented in the first place, had always been the avalibility of Null Spice, which had to be procured from the Null Empire or their black box technology. While the trade was fair, and had gone on for years, the Null Empire has a relatively small population, especially compared to the Nivenian Empire, which limited its capacity to make the components needed for the useful commercial application of kugelblitz technology. The technology to make kugelblitz reactors without Null Spire would allow kugelblitz reactors to gain a decisive commercial edge over those operating on proton fusion, or other processes. This would allow direct matter-to-energy conversion to become commonplace, at least among large instillations that could use the multiple petawatt output of typical kugelblitz reactors, or on smaller ones that could afford the massive costs of a large reactor running at reduced power output. This capability was enabled by enhancing the plasma-based injector system by actually charging the black hole, and using its accretion disk to adjust its spin rate. This allowed for control over the accretion disk and gamma-opaque plasma sphere to extend to the black hole itself, and allowed for the reactors to become safe enough not to require Null Spice to function. However, Null Spice would remain just as valuable and expensive as ever, since it could still be used as a safety feature in dramatically overloaded reactors, greatly increasing their performance.
Interestingly, nothing of major significance happened in Neochios, 45 NE, due to a temporary and unpredicted stall in the technological and social upheaval of the times.
After a couple of months of follow-up research, the Nivenian Board of Technology unveiled a weapon that would potentially change the Nivenian style of space combat forever - the kugelblitz bomb. This weapon, slightly more advanced than other forms of third-generation kugelblitz technology, had to wait until reactor yields could be scaled down to zero to be developed in a storable way - any bomb not well-stored would probably leak (and leak terawatts with even a miniscule inefficiency), but this leaking would cause a decrease in the mass of the core black hole, which would increase the output that needed to be contained! However, the new capabilities of fine control over the plasma and the sharge and spin of the black hole itself lead to the capabilities of nearly zero-loss systems, which, while still leaking hundreds of megawatts of power apiece, had half-lives of years and could safely have their power funneled to augment the ship's reactor. This would allow for (relatively) easy storage, only being somewhat harder to store than a fusion bomb, which requires constant refilling of the tritium boosting the fission warhead used to activate the main proton-fueled detonation.
The kugelblitz bomb design was finally tested in a weapons demonstration on Iunauria 7, on the outer edges of the Nivenia System, near a cluster of medium size (ten to a hundred kilometer) icy asteriods at a trojan lagrange point of the system secondary. The bombs being tested weighed about a hundred metric tons each, with around fifty metric tons of shielding, electronics, control systems, and the like, twenty metric tons of onboard backup systems, twenty metric tons of manipulators for the plasma and central black hole, and a central ten metric ton core composed of plasma, high-energy particles, and a black hole massing around eight metric tons. This black hole, while only weiging as much as a medium-sized fusion warhead, with the missile being comparable to a medium-to-large fusion missile, was capable of detonating its entire mass in only a few dozen microseconds, which would cover a range of only a kilometer or so at relativistic speeds. The mass-energy of eight metric tons, hovever, is nearly a zetajoule (at 180 gigatons TNT equivalent), comparable to the spinal-mounted rocket weapons mounted on ships like the Hydra-class or Dragon-class. These weapons, however, would have the advantage of being easily storable, deployable in massive salvoes, containing thier own high-efficiency kugelblitz drives (allowing them to accelerate to relativistic speeds at a moderate cost to yield), and penetrating all known forms of armor.
Needless to say, the testing amazed all but the most unyielding fusion enthusiasts, and by the end of the conference, several of the icy asteroids were in pieces, all had new craters, and the Nivenian Board of Technology was making a fortune from contracts with factories to make these weapons, contracts with both the military and private security forces to buy the weapons, and contracts to independent developers to market, develop, improve on, and use the weapons. It was a shining moment of triumph for the Nivenian Board of Technology.
It should quickly be noted that though the new class of kugelblitz weapon technology had been invented, and was vastly better than fusion in all respects, it came with two very serious caveats. First, the technology required an unfathomably massive supply chain - one requiring an economy of quadrillions to support - excluding all but the Nivenian Empire's largest organizations from building and using the new weapons. Second, even for those who had the supply chain size nessesary, actually convincing factory owners to reformat their factories to be cogs in the supply chain would be a massive problem, and would likely take at least years. So, fusion would still remain dominant in the near-term, and in the long-term for smaller organizations and ventures, unless backed by larger ones.
With the continued growth of 3C's project on Caeruleo 7.3, the Caeruleo National Organization was gaining more political ground in the system. In an oligarchy such as the Nivenian Empire, political parties usually have no real dominant ideology, and are more likely to just be groups of corporations with similar interests. In such a setup, these parties are typically not well-liked by the populace, which can allow for strong ideas to form, and if convincing enough, to take hold very rapidly. The Caeruleo National Organization is an example of this - by the time of a survey taken in early Martex, 46 NE, over a third of Caeruleo's population identified with the party, and over two thirds claimed that they felt sympathies toward it.
Now with control of the political apparatus of much of the Caeruleo system, the Caeruleo National Organization began pushing for independence, for economic soverignty from the Nivenian Empire, for a lack of external intervention, and for the expulsion of alien migrants. The actual nivenian imperial government, however, did not actually care that much, as the light and resources from Caeruleo, even if cut off, would take more than two years to actually affect Nivenia because of the light-lag - time in which the nivenian governement could theoretically solve the problem. However, the main emotion regarding the new organization was denial - no-one wanted to believe that the second-most influential system in the Empire, which controlled Nivenia's energy supply, could just randomly break off over a fabricated national identity. Because of this, most of Nivenia's corporations and large-scale organizations of other types downplayed the threat of a breakup, both publicly and to themselves. As this continued, the idea that Caeruleo could break away became less and less likely to the average nivenian, mostly because of propaganda and misinformation.
In later Martex, Dr. Nu'Iva Shal, from the Federation of Free States, and an acquantance of NP-L2-ASI01, requested citezenship status in the Nivenian Empire after hearing of their annoucement of free migration, as she seemed to want to study the nivenian of her fields as a historian and medical doctor, presumably as part of her exploration of the universe. She also expressed interest in a cultural exchange between the Nivenian Empire and the members of the Federation of Free States. NP-L2-ASI01 personally responded after hearing of the request, having become a fan of Dr. Shal's work after their first encounter, precisly due to its odd (from a nivenian perspective) nature. After telling Dr. Shal about the procedures for gaining citezenship - namely a registration with a station in orbit around Nivenia Prime near the wormhole to JCompany space - NP-L2-ASI01 offered to provide Dr. Shal with the "funds, cultural context, and political connections needed to make [her] environment as pleasant as possible," since the Nivenian Empire, and especially Nivenia Prime, was generally a political mess, with no public services of note, and NP-L2-ASI01 was eager to help Dr. Shal.
On Iunius 6, there was a massive series of worker riots all over the Nivenian Empire. The coordination of this event was too good for it to have been coincidental, as these riots occured in several massive industrial installations at the same time, from Andasium Reductor Four to the Megastructural Construction Corporation's ringworld construction sites, to Nivenia Prime's waste reprocessing facilities, to the massive mineral refining and forging plants covering Nivenia A12.1, as well as in various locations in smaller facilities all over the empire, though the Megastructural Construction Corporation was attacked the hardest.
After three days of massive civil unrest, the riots were brought to an end after security forces and private miltaries from all of the corporations involved, as the workers dispersed from their riots once they began to get shot by security forces. Anyone who peacefully dispersed without causing further property damage was usually allowed to leave in peace in most cases, save for a few bad actors who wanted to make a point to their workers (who would likely seek other employment, if possible), and anyone found organizing the event was imprisoned and sent to Nivenia Prime for trial. In total, 450 trillion were killed in the event on both sides. This event caused a further closure of all facilities affected until the middle of the month, with the time of re-opening depending on the facility. While this event involved over ten quadrillion workers, and so was an extremely large and problematic event, smaller events of similar nature were actually quite common in the Nivenian Empire - they are just small enough to not make national news. Still, the organization of this event convinced most not participating that there was some deeper conspiracy at work behind the scenes.
Unbeknownst to the wider Nivenian population, although a few thousandths of the Nivenian Empire's population had enough context to figure this out, the event was actually caused by Veronica Wilcox's organization. This may seem counterintuitive, since they were one of the compaines hit hardest in the attack in terms of lost funds, being twentieth or thirtieth in the empire out of billions, but Wilcox Industries' normalized losses had been less than average. The reason Wilcox opted to cause such an event was because of the damage it would cause to systems, especially delicate systems, all over the Nivenian Empire. This would allow Wilcox to take advantage of this damage to market her higher-quality systems to these corporations, allowing her to make more business for herself.
In the aftermath of this event, labour unions were publically blamed for the riots, and corporations, police, and other organizations cracked down on labour unions all over the empire, which were either destroyed, forced underground, or, rarely, left their parent corporations to pool their funds to form worker cooperative businesses. All in all, the riots lead to a substantial degredation of worker rights in the affected companies, and in general accomplished the opposite of everything it was preaching due to the subsequent crackdown on worker organizations.
On Novemex 1, NP-L2-ASI01 finally managed to make a major breakthrough in its field of "Basic" Spacetime Engineering. This breakthrough was a simple gravitomagnetic device that used multiple third-generation kugelblitz bombs of masses in the one to one hundred kilogram range to "pump" a turbine that was able to generate a "gravitomagnetic" force - that is, a force similar to gravity as magnetism is similar to electricity - a force acting perpendicular to the main force and its velocity, which can be concentrated with rotating gravitational distortions.
The important part of this pump was that due to the short timescales involved, and the energy densities of the black holes needed, extremely short-lived but extremely powerful spacetime distortions could be made - including topological defects. These defects could include magnatic monopoles, closed-loop cosmic strings of both positive and negative mass, and more, but all would collapse back into black holes, or explode with their full mass-energy, in a similar amount of time to the evaporation of the black hole itself.
These results were not unexpected given NP-L2-ASI01's state of confidence in its research, but were revolutionary nonetheless. Particuarly, the ability to create negative matter, even short-lived negative matter, opened the posibility of creating long-lived graviational distortions, potentially even self-perpetuating ones from the objects able to be created. While this research was still on a small scale, these constructs had the capability to lead to more complex contructs that could be used to "edit" the inertial mass of an object through spacetime distortion, or distort spacetime to change distance and time gradients.
While the discovery of magnetic monopoles opened the posibility of the formation of supermaterials with them, their extreme masses and densities (on the planck scale), meant that any structure made from them more than two monopoles thick would be inside its own event horizon, and "ropes" made from these objects would quickly collapse into black holes given a few planck times. All in all, these particles were not suitable for any type of reasonable construction, and were of little interest. Q-balls, however, sometimes generated in the aftermath of the plack-scale experimentation done, were a different matter.
Interestingly, some of the exotic Q-balls created from these experiments had the interesting property of being able to "reflect" the vast majority of quarks they came into contact with, allowing the transmutation of baryons into antibaryons, and by extention, matter into antimatter. Furthermore, the quasi-stability of these Q-balls, with lifetimes long enough as to not having a meaningful probability of decay made the storage of these objects possible. In addition, these objects had mass and size ranges not unreasonable for industrial usage, and so could theoretically be used to create industrial-scale antimatter production. Like the phenominon of negative cosmic strings, this would have to be investigated at a later date.
Regarding these phenomina, NP-L2-ASI01 decided to concentrate on the potential applications of artificially-generated negative matter in space warping. Theoretically, the controlled creation of a self-perpetuating warp in spacetime could allow ships to modify their momentum without accelerating by storing momentum in the spacetime distorsion, potentially allowing the inverse - accelerating without modifying their momentum. While the modified inertial properties of this device would prevent it from being able to destroy planets like a "true" reactionless drive, it would allow for temporary nearlight speeds to be acheived without large amounts of energy input - an extremely handy system.
After an initial period of research NP-L2-ASI01 decided that the technology of stable, aftificial negative matter had two potential first-generation applications, both of which would be extremely useful. First, if a line of concentrated negative matter were layed between two stars by a hyper-relativistic starship, it could be possible to create a passage between the two stars with a radically decreased distance - a "Krasnikov tube". This could potentially change the light-year distances between the Nivenia System and the colony systems to mere hundreds of AU, and the hundreds of AU of distance between the two main stars of the Nivenia system to an AU or less. However, it was not known how expensive in terms of mass, energy, and labour such a system would be, with it being not unlikely prohibitive, if not outrageous. The second application was more promising, though - sustained fields surrounding ships for non-inertial transportation. While at this stage the energy required to non-inertially move a mass without changing its "real" momentum would be equal to the kinetic energy that would be gained if the object was accelerated normally (since at this stage the technology would essentially involve creating a spacetime "momentum battery" contained within the ship to act as its drive system, with the ship's mass remaining unchanged in normal spacetime), it was likely that at least some of the energy would be able to be extracted at the end of the journey upon slowdown, allowing for relativistic transit at much lower costs. This technology, of self-contained spacetime-based non-inertial momentum storage devices, would not be that hard for NP-L2-ASI01 to develop, especially with its new modificatons increasing its processing power, and would likely be able to be developed within a year. However, due to the significance of the technology, NP-L2-ASI01 would be much more secretive in this project's research that it usually was.
However, some of the basic details of the technologies were leaked through an unknown means, which lead to a very interesting series of events given the secrecy of the project at hand. As news outlets only had fractional information about the nature of the research being conducted, and NP-L2-ASI01 was being quite secretive about the whole ordeal, the media began to popularize fringe theories about what was going on, from relatively sane theories close to the truth to theories such as the possibility of NP-L2-ASI01 trying to "prevent the end of the universe by stopping the big bang from ever happening." Startlingly, NP-L2-ASI01 actually decided to confirm the last theory on a virtual interview with one of the fringe news stations from the system secondary - perhaps because it was among the furthest from the truth. This was, however, done on a traditional Nivenian holiday from their old calendar system (the one no-one actually used anymore), which existed specifically for the purpose of performing practical jokes. While a minority of the population (including almost all of those in power) found the stunt hilarious, it also caused a mass panic among followers of fringe science across the Nivenian Empire. Most of those in power found this hilarious as well, at least for the first few hours. Then they got more concerned.
When the minor unrest among followers of various fringle theories entered its third week, the leading Nivenian officials, managers, and business owners began to get much more concered about the possbility of long-term problems in efficiency. So, several of them agreed to try to pressure NP-L2-ASI01 to publicly state that it had no intention of preventing the end of the universe on television. This proved to be harder than originally expected, though, since once their various public relations specialists got involved, it was realized that both denying and confirming the possibility of stopping the end of the universe by preventing its beginning would causing a public relations crisis. After significant brainstorming, and several unsuccesful blackmail attempts on NP-L2-ASI01, these officials finally decided to just create their own public informational campaign to claim that "there was no such thing as 'the end of the universe,'" and, because of this, everyone who advertised it must be a communist insurgent, followed by a government crackdown on supposed communist insurgents. Following this, the entire problem evaporated in the span of less than a week, although the incident still left a bad taste in the mouths of many officials, managers, and business owners who had failed to succesfully blackmail NP-L2-ASI01.
After the original group of fringe news consumers that had freaked out because of the secrecy of NP-L2-ASI01's project and its preposterous claim that it would be "preventing the end of the universe by preventing it from ever beginning," the practice of claiming that the world would end soon had gone out of fashion again, at least as much as it could. The few still curious as to what NP-L2-ASI01 was doing were given an abbriviated explanation - that NP-L2-ASI01 was conducting derivative research on spacetime engineering.
In Caeruleo, the computer at Caeruleo 7.3 was starting to gain more scientists exponentially. The numerous opportunities for well-paid research positions caused a large shift in the economy of the Caeruleo system, as the corporations in 3C taking advantage of the research and computational power managed to slowly improve their industrial production efficiency, meaning more and more people were able to earn enough to start college education. Due to these factors, a runaway effect was beginning in Caeruleo where their universitis underwent a period of extremely rapid growth due to the number of research positions at the planetary computer.
As the universities grew, though, the universities would gain more funding, and begin doing research themselves - either "blue-sky" university research or research outsourced from corporations not in 3C in order to stay competitive. All of these points were also stimulating the migration from Nivenia to Caeruleo, between the computing complex, the universities' rapid growth, and the massive economic growth being generated as a result. By 47 NE, the planetary computing complex was operaing at 10% capacity - 10 trillion researchers, with nearly the same amount as beauraucrats, clerks, administrarive personeel, and others in habitats near the moon.
Interestingly, at the beginning of Martex, 47 NE, an employee of Wilcox Industries leaded that they had developed an experimental way of fully unifying biological and technological intelligences, to allow for cybernetics capable of augmenting the user's intelligence in all aspects! While the technology reportedly involved an expensive and invasive brainscan, and massive amounts of computational power were required afterwards, devoted to simulations of parts of the subject's brain, the operation was at a state where it cost less than a quarter Petacredit to perform, and was reputedly being constantly advanced.
This technology was classified by experts as "fifth-generation cybernetics," a technology two generations ahead of the current models, and thus only accesible in a prototype state, and at exorbinant prices. In the words of Dr. Lester Carey, "If what this leak claims is true, Wilcox Industries has already developed multiple technologies to support it, and may be producing a line of publicly-avalible fourth-generation cybernetics soon. However, this advent could allow individuals in Wilcox industries to quickly dominate the technological and acedemic field, if performed correctly."
This, and other commentaries, convinced many to believe that something underhanded was going on inside Wilcox Industries, which caused no end of media speculation throughout the month. This also lead to several legal initiatives being founded to try to press charges on Wilcox Industries for supposed crimes, either by rival corporations, individuals who wanted to give themselves money and fame, eccentric wealthy individuals, or entities that considered themselves wronged in some way by Wilcox Industries. These initiatives coordinated to launch a massive legal attack on Martex 28, 47 NE, to try to sue Wilcox Industries for several claimed offenses, and charge several of their managers with crimes. As these went to court, and Wilcox Industries was forced to cease many of its operations during the duration of the court cases, many subversive agents were able to infiltrate the corporation, and begin destroying some of their manufacturing equipment. Due to this, Wilcox Industries covertly bribed the magistrates of the various cases, and was able to get most of the claims and charges dismissed in short order.
After these fiascoes, Wilcox Industries released a public statement concerning their research, and their plans for further development. After questioning by reporters, they revealed that they would be developing a commercial line of affordable fourth-generation cybernetics within two years based on their research, but that the fifth-generation cybernetics leaked were quite experimental, and would likely not be commercially avalible for decades at the least. They then spent the rest of the statement discussing the affordability of their various lines of consumer-oriented products.
Though Wilcox Industries was right in that their fifth-generation cybernetics would only be publicly avalible and useful after at least a decade, they did not mention in their public statement the status of the experimental prototype. On Iunius 9, this prototype was ready for its first test, with only minimal intellectual capability enhancement over the third-generation cybernetics commonly avalible at the time, and, animal testing having produced favourable results, was tested on live nivenians. After these small-scale tests concluded four days later, testing involving radical mental augmentation commenced. The tests at small-scale were extensive, but due to the expense of equipping a single nivenian with the technology, a large amount of small-scale testing was unfeasible. Interestingly, Veronica Wilcox herself volunteered to be the first large-scale test subject for the technology. Though her decision was met with fierce opposition on several levels of the corporation, she decided to go through with the procedure, and had the final word since she owned the company. As such, on Iunius 13, she had the system calibrated and installed, and began augmenting herself with software designed to augment nivenians by merging them with artificial intelligences "grown," in a way, from their own minds.
This process would take years, but would result in the slow augmentation of Wilcox's mind, potentially allowing her company to soar to even greater heights in the years to come.
Earlier that year, there had been a transmission from an unknown entity calling itself the Eupheric Pact of Nations, declaring that they were from a new galaxy, Eupherion, and had activated three of what they called "Zalax Megaconstructs." After a brief confusion it was found out that the Zalax were apperently a defunct empire from about a hundred thousand years before that had apperently left behind megastructures in various states of operation or decay. In any case, this new galaxy now had access to the rest of the Gigaquadrant easily through these constructs. Shortly afterwards, JCompany jumped on this new opportunity for business, and offered to build a JColony and JTrade Center in the Eupherion Galaxy, asking if their information regarding that the "Gharka-Nar" sector was the most peaceful was correct, so that they could establish a colony there, which the Eupheric Pact of Nations confirmed. After being notified of a current cold war in the galaxy, and the potential threat of extortion, JCompany decided to remain neutral in the affair, as per their tradition.
While the Nivenian Empire had been embroiled in domestic turmoil and scandal for the first part of the year, it took them several months to reply to this transmission. When they did on Iunius 49, 47 NE, NP-L2-ASI01 gave the Eupheric Pact of Nations a breif pitch of the materials exported by the Nivenian Empire (food, andasium, and industrial machinery), as the opening of an entire new galaxy could mean a substantial increase in trade, and could as such provide a large boost to the economy. Particuarly, if the Nivenian Empire was to secure Eupherion's andasium markets early-on, it might be possible to massively ramp up andasium production while maintaining prices.