Hephaestus; Ultimates no more

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Baribal Baribal's picture
Hephaestus; Ultimates no more

With the mainstream of the Ultimates faction being moved towards outright fascism, I propose that instead of clamoring against it, we should start designing those parts of the Ultimate faction that clamor against it, enriching the game world. My contribution: The ship-slash-habitat Hephaestus.

When a fleet of fast shuttles that were tracked as coming directly from Xiphos first approached the DIY Shipyards, everything and everyone went into high alert. When those shuttles identified themselves as breakaway Ultimates who wanted to build a ship of their own, things settled down to strong suspicions, and nobody putting away their guns just yet, but at least putting the safety back on again. Over the course of a few days, the newcomers were found to at least be ideologically similar enough to help them along with building a ship. The fact that asteroids rich in raw materials had already been brought on a course towards the Shipyards as remuneration helped to smooth over tensions for the moment. Now, several months later, the Hephaestus has cast off, leaving many an Anarchist shipwright wondering what just had happened.

When Kookaburra Phoenix had gone through his initial training among the Ultimates, and had been made a full-blown Exemplar, his immersion into Ultimate culture came as a shock of disappointment. While he had seen merit in the highly regimented, top-down chain-of-command approach to training and command, he found that where he thought that this style of interaction would end, to be replaced by one of siblings interacting as equals, militarism had prevailed, stifling the promise of self-actualization that the Ultimates had held for him. This was definitely not the community that he had run to to escape the trajectory that his creators at Somatek had set him upon. Putting what little acceptance and respect that he had accumulated so far at risk, he spoke out against the structures of prevailing Ultimate culture. Things came to a boil quickly, but Kookaburra Phoenix found that he was not the only one having reservations.

Seeing this spark of revolution as an opportunity to cleanse the organization of dangerous dissenters bloodlessly on one hand, and seeing a hope for a philosophical rejuvenation on the other (the latter being a more popular position among the Iconics), Ultimate authorities and Phoenix's faction came to an easy agreement. He and his following could borrow a few ships for a while as long as they just got out, and took their ilk with them. Thus they settled into the cramped ships, engage in hibernating in shifts, and started the project led by newly minted Ductus Kookaburra Phoenix to draw up the next generation of Ultimate society. Now, nearly a year later, the execution of this project has commenced, heralded by Phoenix's cry "Ductus no more!"

The Hephaestus is in essence a small, elongated Bernal sphere that is embedded in a grid-like superstructure, which is populated by an increasing number of modules, some of which provide the propulsion. While the Hephaestus is as self-sufficient as habitats can be, it is by no means finished, and probably never will be, either; a constant reconfiguration of its shell of modules is very much baked into its design, and its nanoforges currently create two modules a week on average. The first "module" added after the essentials were mounted was the sculpture of a gilded kookaburra. Phoenix strongly objected to such a symbol of hero worship. Proving his voice to be only one among many was all the motivation needed for the rest of the crew to start the fabbing.

Politically, the Hephaestus is in a state of flux between several systems. While this would be a sign of crisis in most habitats, even Autonomist ones, this too is by design here. The habitat's citizen run several governments in parallel, with each citizen paticipating in several of them at the same time. As time goes by, some of these systems will go into hibernation, while others will be implemented as citizens see fit. Topics under discussion are kicked around between these governments, as the citizens try to figure out what kind of topic is best resolved by what kinds of discussion format and structure of institutions. Even at DIY Shipyards there were Anarchists who advised against such a chaotic system, believing that it was to be planning for failure. The ex-Ultimates, however, held the opinion that having a more rigid system, even if it allowed both for turnover and systematic change, was to be planning for immanent calcification of the politic structure, which would only guide them into just such a state as which they had just left.
In fact, they even added yet another layer of complication. Not only would each person participate in several governments, they would also each do their best to act in at least one of them in bad faith, spreading arguments against their best beliefs. The idea here is that each of them would act as Devil's Advocate, both for their own benefit and those of the rest of the citizenry. That way, they would flood their system with as broad a spectrum of ideas as they could manage, and find the best and most broadly supported among them, just as they are trying to find the best type of governmental institution for each problem. Also, by having each person arguing for at least two positions, that process would be reflected in the individual, too, making them work actively against ingrained bias and preconceptions.
The central political building in Hephaestus' Bernal sphere is the Bikeshed. Relatively small physically, it is used mostly as a backdrop for debates or performances in the amphitheater outside of it. Within its barely adorned walls, infomorphs and AGIs scramble to maintain a hologram that is a structured representation of all memes that are being thrown around on the Hephaestus. "Somewhere in here there is truth" says the motto outside above the wide doors. "If you think you have found it, you are wrong" says the motto on the inside.

While the ex-Ultimates of this habitat are far more free-wheeling than the polity that they stem from, they should not be taken for Autonomists, either, even though they cooperate surprisingly closely. On one hand, there is still a clear distinction of who is a member of the habitat's citizenry and who is not, and while there are no secrets, and places forbidden to outsiders, like there were among the Ultimates, membership in the citizenry is still dependent upon both proving one's dedication to self-improvement and growth during one's apprenticeship under several Exemplars, and being accepted into the citizenry by those who are already members. This process is, compared to where it stems from, very fast and permeable, though; a handful of people who pretty much just happened to pass by have already been absorbed, and both ship maintenance and module planning are, most of the time, headed by a shipwright picked up from DIY Shipyards, who was willing to try out something new.
All ranks above Exemplar have been done away with, though, and replaced only with the temporary titles that the governments bestow.

Currently, the Hephaestus is headed for the Jovian Trojans, to bootstrap the habitat's military contingent, and conduct exercises with the Sabate Swarm. Afterwards, it will be heading towards the Main Belt, to prospect for asteroids that can be flung towards DIY Shipyards as payment for a set of proper warships that the ex-Ultimates plan to build as soon as time and materials permit.

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational | http://eclipsephase.com/comment/59484#comment-59484