15.8.1798 Campaign launched:
Hi, Celia here, I’ve made a breakthrough in my study of xenolife protein sequencing. Now, if you have followed me for a while you might remember that sequencing proteins from even a single specimen is tedious work, each test takes up to an hour, sometimes even two and often one needs to perform several hundred tests on every protein in the specimen. To obtain test results in any reasonable amount of time I needed to run several tests on different set-ups in parallel. But after a couple decades of this work I developed a few tricks for running several different tests from a single root experiment and by this point I believe that it may be possible to miniaturize a testing kit capable of determining whether a specimen of xenoflora or xenofauna is compatible with parahuman biology in minutes.
Unfortunately, performing efficacy tests on this kit will be expensive. Running tests on any new product takes a considerable investment of time and resources, even more so when the product involves exostellar material such as xenoflora proteins. As you know, there are few planets with natural ecosystems in the Federation, and since most of them are former outworlds even fewer have a gate connection, meaning that xeno specimens need to be shipped at STL speeds over distances of many lightyears. Now, a while back I put out an open order on the quantum for new specimens and recently I heard back from a trader who can provide a dozen different Cyreteen organisms that the natives supplement their diets with, they have data on which organisms are mildly toxic and which might be safe to consume, making them ideal for this test. However, they’re asking a minimum price of eighteen thousand Production Credits for the samples, I’m hoping I can negotiate them down based on the future utility of the kits to their profession, but to be safe and to cover the actual testing costs I am asking for loans totalling twenty-two thousand.
The trader will arrive in a little less than eight years, I have set up an escrow account with links to all the major crowdfunding sites: Hitstarter, Kira, Indcom, feel free to use any of them or send crypto directly to the escrow as detailed below.
Campaign ends: 15.6.1806
First month done and we’re nearly to 8% funding, that’s amazing considering how little time has passed and how long we still have before the ship with the samples arrives.
However, most of the material I’ve read on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign says that you tend to get the majority of funds during the first month to a year on long-running campaigns. Something about how the novelty of a new idea wears off fairly quickly or something.
So, keep on spreading the word!
Okay, six months since the funding campaign began. We’ve made it to sixteen percent, about double what we were five months ago. I guess this is what the books meant by losing momentum.
However, the books and advice columns do also mention that one might be able to pull off a sort of “second wind” when the campaign starts to come closer to a close. Playing on people’s sense of urgency you know.
Gah! I meant to post this on the one year anniversary of the launch six days ago. Not that it’s been going too well, just under 18% funded with seven years to go. I may have to suck it up and start begging from the government for funds at this rate.
I’m also considering revising the rewards as written, maybe something like this “capital shares” concept I see from a few Outworlds.
Okay, so I asked a few barristers and they said that it would actually be illegal to issue capital stock. The whole thing is a bit hard to grasp, but I’ll try to rephrase what they told me.
On Old Terra and a few still independent Outworlds there was a concept called a “corporation”, it was like a person, yet not. There wouldn’t be any actual parahuman, but contracts could be made with corporations as if they were humans, they could own property known as “corporate assets”, and they paid taxes independent of those working for the corporation, often at higher or lower rates than real people. Income brought in by the employees of a corporation would go into the corporation’s accounts just like a parahuman employer, but after paying the employees and any expenses incurred the profits made by the people working for the corporation would be distributed among people who owned stock in the corporation.
Oh yes, stock, people could buy and sell pieces of corporations as if they were actual commodities. These pieces were known as “shares”, not to be confused with the profit-sharing we do with our Houses and friends, though profits incurred by a corporation would be distributed among the stockholders in a similar manner. The difference is that while House sharing distributes the income members contribute evenly among all the people of the House, and individuals may divert their income to friends as they wish, corporate profits were distributed to the shares and a person could own multiple shares in a corporation. Meaning that if a corporation issued 200 shares someone could own 1 share and get 0.5% of the profits and someone who had 2 shares would get 1%, and it would easily be possible for one to buy 100 shares and be entitled to fully half the profits. In addition, owning shares allowed one to vote on major decisions for the corporation, with each share granting its owner one vote, that owner of 100 shares would have as much say in running the corporation as 100 owners of one share apiece put together.
It gets worse, in many cases it was possible for stockholders to sell their shares with no input from the other stockholders. Corporations would issue shares and sell them to accumulate capital, then people would buy them and sell them to others when the “market” determined their shares had become more valuable, or they’d be persuaded to sell them during a bad time by someone who wanted to seize control of the corporation. A lot of corporations would be bought by other corporations and assimilated or forced into a state of vassalage.
Now, despite these problems corporations had two advantages that made them very popular. First, they’d allow an entrepreneuer to accumulate a great deal of capital rapidly, and second, they provided a legal buffer for the owners, if anything happened the corporation would take the fall instead of them.
But, probably because our ancestors were created and enslaved by corporations, they are illegal to create in Federation space. Creating one would commit one of two crimes, in fact, fraud for fabricating a person who doesn’t actually exist, or enslavement for owning a person. Eridani is a special case, their pre-Federation government was actually a corporation as described above, this resulted in the government being owned by an aristocratic caste of stockholders growing rich off the profits their employees earned. As part of the terms of annexation however, they were required to introduce a few terms to their charter barring people who owned shares from buying or otherwise obtaining new ones or voting more than once. This resulted in a gradual, but still not complete, shift of power from the oligarchs to the common people as they were suddenly the only people able to buy shares.
Anyways, no I cannot sell capital shares in my enterprise, however I could provide friend profit-sharing as a funding reward. I got one of the barristers to write up a contract guaranteeing 1% of the profits for 100pc, with higher-level rewards attached to proportionally higher percentages. Details are on the site.
Whoever is responsible for that article accusing me of trying to reinstate slavery did not read the previous post very well. However, my funding went up to 31% within hours of the attack so I suppose I have to thank them for it.
This crowdfunding campaign has been running for almost five years now, with just three years to go before the deadline. Yet, even with the five minutes of fame from the profit-share reward it is still less than halfway to meeting the goal of 22,000pc.
I have pitched my idea to both the Federal Guard and the Surveyors. The Guard wasn’t particularly interested, claiming that it was easier to enforce discipline if the infantry was only eating their provided field rations. Surveyors thought it might reduce mass requirements for landing craft significantly, but couldn’t provide more than 5k. I’ve contacted every merchant in gated space but the most any was willing to part with was 1200pc if the test kit was going to be completed after they left. I might have to see who’s in closer to the end date.
Okay, as a last resort I went to my family for help. Great-grandma Thessalia, senior of House Tardiin, was willing to fund my project entirely, on one condition. That condition being that I enter a breeding contract with House Chelac. You see, Tardiin is fairly large but our estates aren’t particularly bountiful, if I bear a few children for Chelac they’ll transfer a few square kilometers of land to our House.
Look, I may be two hundred years old already but I have things to do besides spend three decades raising the next generation of a family. I’ll be busy enough with the testing, assuming I can muster the funds of course.
I asked Great-grandma if she’d be willing to wait until the ship, the Defiant I think, is within neutrino range. With the last tracking data I have that will be sometime in month 3 of 1806. So, please spread the word before then.
Still only 60% funded, I was able to send a message by neutrino to the Defiant with details of my situation. It’ll be a day or two before a reply arrives though. I don’t know what I’m expecting really.
Huh, I was not expecting a job offer. Captain Terryn of the free trader Defiant said he was willing to take on a xenobiologist for the next voyage out with a 10,000pc advance on pay. They think there might be some fauna and flora on the planet they just left that have commercial potential so it would help if they had the testing kits and someone skilled in their use with them when they set out. I don’t know how much spacers usually make per trip but it can’t be worse than arranged parenthood. Not to mention that I’d be able to do my work on board, no need to rent a lab and fabricators.
The downside, of course, is that it’ll be another thirty years or so before the product arrives to my backers, sorry.
Absent Aliens: With one exception, the Kershkans, Parahumanity has not encountered a single extant species of sapient alien.
However, there is evidence a plenty of their existence, at some point in history, from the presence of the Destroyers and the graves of their victims. Somebody had to create the Destroyers after all. In addition, the Federation has found the remains of ten bombed out systems, Earth-sized planets cracked open by relativistic projectiles, sometimes other celestial bodies bearing craters that seem unnatural. It seems disheartening at first, but the distance between those systems suggest independent evolution, with no exostellar colonization efforts. By that standard Parahumanity is far ahead of the game.
A number of planets, such as Tau Ceti, have complex ecosystems with plant and animal analogues, but little potential for sapience, even with uplift.
Due to the prevalence of automation and nanotechnology there are very few jobs in Federation space in the fields of mining, agriculture, or manufacturing, and the ones that exist are primarily supervision and programming of robots. Almost all manual labor is performed by machines, and with nanotechnology one can have a factory and recycling complex on their desk.
When automation all but eliminated manual labor in the Republic of New Pallas the government was faced with the prospect of hundreds of thousands of unemployed citizens, the obvious solution was to instate a guaranteed basic income that was enough to keep everyone fed and healthy, half the population was still living in state-owned arcology apartments anyway. For a couple centuries population expansion was carefully regulated to keep pace with the resources available and the progress of the terraforming operation and most seemed happy. Some of the permanently unemployed spent their time just soaking up entertainment, yes, but many others became artists, amateur scientists, or full-time parents.
Then there was the Plague War. The Republic was not hurt as badly as the SPPS but death spread throughout the arcologies regardless. While automated infrastructure remained intact its minders did not, breakdowns became increasingly commonplace leading to starvation. In addition, many parahumans became wary of packing so many people together in the immense but still confined city-buildings and fled to the largely unused countryside in droves. Desktop nanofabbers had become a luxury consumer product in the years before the plague, and some groups had (illegally) hacked them to self-replicate, now the starving masses were shoveling random plants and raw dirt into bootleg fabbers simply to eat.
Some in government tried to brand them as criminals, but they didn’t have the resources left to enforce those laws and the politicians in question didn’t last the next election cycle. Once able to operate in the open nanofab homesteads cropped up all over the continent, many of them nearly self-sufficient. But nanotechnology cannot turn lead into gold, raw elements still needed to be found and mined, often only after a significant investment of time and resources.
Joint-stock companies or corporations were never accepted as a legal entity in New Pallas, the corporations who created and enslaved their ancestors were too thoroughly demonized in their culture. Rather most businesses operate as independent contractors or at most partnerships with employees. However, a system of profit-sharing and crowdfunding has emerged that fulfills most of the functions of a corporation.
Profit-sharing is a system in which an individual citizen sets up a program to automatically distribute the profits from their work, after expenses of course, to specified people. Usually those people are friends or close relatives, but if some of them were people who gave them a significant amount of money when they were just starting their business then so be it. Each of New Pallas’ founding genera has a profit-share in which each member contributes a small portion of their income, generally a small fraction of a percentage given the populations of every founding genus, which is distributed equally to every member of the genus. Smaller families also tend to have their own profit-shares, most notably Psi-Comm for the high families of genus Argentum.
Crowdfunding can generally be sorted into three categories: pre-orders, subscriptions, or loans. Pre-orders are for specific projects with a discrete start and end, backers receive a reward at the completion of the project that they specified at funding (like Kickstarter). Subscriptions give the backers exclusive access, or at least early access, to the creator’s content (i.e. Patreon). Loans are just what they sound like, backers expect to be paid back with interest at some point.
In practice, most citizens have a steady income from a combination of profit-shares and crowdfunding. The net result is that everyone eats, anyone can afford luxuries with some degree of saving, and artisans, inventors, and primary producers are the most affluent members of society.Interstellar merchants are a bit of an exeption to this rule, but they’re an extremely small minority.
While mating customs vary among different planets, the only legal arrangement that the Federal government recognizes in regards to the creation of families is the Procreation Contract. This contract is written and signed in addition to whatever local customs and/or laws require. The details vary but the basics is that the happy couple, or however many participants there may be, agree to produce and care for children. Usually the number of children and time they’ll let them act as dependents is specified, but it may be left open.
Contraceptive technology is near perfect with nanotechnology, and in any case many who aren’t hardline Noospherists undergo sterilization procedures at puberty, so family planning is relatively easy. Their progeny are almost always conceived in a petri dish and gestated in a Synth-Womb to optimize genetic profiles anyways. This habitual use of technology also enables same-sex couples and multi-partner groups to produce offspring that share genes with all their parents via a variety of different techniques.
The majority of Federation citizens grew up with the idea that they’re going to live an extremely long time, if not forever, and rarely believe in the notion of a romantic relationship lasting for eternity. Newly-admitted former outworlds frequently end up with entire legal firms dedicated to canceling contracts signed by lovesick ex-mortals. A more typical term is twenty-thirty years, sufficient time to raise one-three reasonably spaced out siblings. Once that term is up the participants may break up, chose to remain together in a non-breeding relationship, or renew later.
Another thing about Procreation Contracts that is hard for outworlders to comprehend is that it does not require any sort of sexual exclusivity. The contract completely separates the acts of sex and reproduction. Some groups do write up separate contracts for fidelity, but most leave it at the level of unwritten rules. And that isn’t even taking into account the various local customs that the Federation largely leaves intact.
The high families of genus Argentum have their own special contracts, “Pedigreed” Procreation Contracts are approved by the eugenics board to limit the deleterious effects of inbreeding among the Federation’s political elite. The children born of Pedigreed contracts are entitled to shares in Psi-Comm and recognition in the social circles that are a necessary part of a lengthy career in politics or bureaucracy. Family members can have children through unapproved contracts, but such progeny lack recognition.
Roughly half of all Pedigreed contracts actually are not drawn up by the signatory parties, they are arranged by other relatives in pursuit of some eugenic goal, such as the telepath breeding program, or in exchange for political favors. While the couple have the right to refuse to sign these contracts many elites have had mates they did not particularly like from the get-go, the fact that they aren’t even required to have sex helps smooth things out. There is some concern about the well-being of the resulting children but many families at that income level hire caretakers anyway, and even if the biological parents mated on their own volition the kids often feel closer to the hired help.
After the Plagues and the dispersal of the arcology populations to the countryside it became more common for small groups of friends to buy plots of land and build on them, oftentimes members of these groups mated with one another. However, disputes arose often enough that a standard contract to share housing arose in which the signees agree to pool resources for the maintenance of the grounds and welfare of those living on them. These household contracts are increasingly written alongside procreation contracts, especially in the colonies. Sociologists have speculated that without this addition to the Centauri culture the integration of the territorial clan-based Ceti would have been nearly impossible.
Generally speaking, interstellar travel outside the stargate network is uncommon, many systems go years without seeing a starship. Still, a small minority of people make their living voyaging from star to star. These nomads generally fall under one of three categories: traders, explorers/researchers, and military. The third category probably has the largest population at a given time but also the highest turnover rate.
The Federal Guard is the only governmental military with interstellar reach, though they tend to act more like a police force than military, lacking enemies with even close to comparable power. The few outworlds with space navies are usually no match for even a civilian Federation freighter, and the Destroyers are so dreaded that the Guard’s standing orders in case of an encounter are to evacuate as many civilians as possible before retreating at full throttle. It’s common for restless citizens to sign up for a 50-year term of duty (up to 80% of the time spent in stasis) with the Guard, then transition back to civilian life almost seamlessly. Those who find that they enjoy the interstellar life may sign up for another term or seek employment as a trader or explorer. Others may have been expecting more “action” when they signed up, or actually were in combat once or twice and found they enjoyed it a bit too much. Those parahumans might end up going private.
Private Military Contractors have only three legal roles in Federation space: claim protection, colony security, and training, and a company with a long-term contract may end up filling all three in sequence. Before a colony is established there is a lot of preparatory work to do, and with the spotty nature of interstellar communications more than once has a planetary claim been grabbed by another group before the one who first filed the claim even had the chance to launch. While there’s usually enough room on a planet for multiple colonies these “misunderstandings” tend to result in a lot of friction, and so settlement companies might hire mercenaries to land first and enforce their claim. These mercenaries will typically receive the job notice on the stargate’s laser network and the company stationed closest to the destination system will generally get the job, most colonists come from the more densely populated core worlds while PMCs tend to find the most employment out on the frontier, it’s convenient. Upon arriving the mercenary company will deploy orbital sensor and weapons platforms and nanofab an air-droppable forward base from an asteroid or two. Most of the company will remain in stasis until another ship arrives though a few will remain awake in shifts to watch for intruders or suppress hostile fauna if the planet is inhabitable without terraforming. If a ship that doesn’t belong to their clients arrives after them the interlopers can usually be turned back, disappointed but unharmed. Still, there’s little to no oversight out there on the edges of the frontier and more than once the would-be claimjumpers have have tried taking the planet by force. There are also rumors of mercenary companies that arrived to find claimjumpers already entrenched in the system, with messy but unconfirmed results.
After the colony has been established the PMCs can act as the colony’s home guard, defending the settlement from bandits or pirates, occasionally helping settle disputes within the colony or with rivals. When the colony gets around to founding their own home guard the mercenaries help to train them. Once that final phase is complete the mercenary company will typically collect their pay, with all the interest accumulated, and leave. Most of the time they’ll work with agents in the core worlds who will forward them job contracts via a quantum link and will have a new contract waiting before they finish their last one.
Outside the Federation’s borders, however, all bets are off. The Federal Guard maintains a small patrol in any outworld system, often just a single cruiser/AKV carrier, but so long as no one brings non-implanted nanotech down to the planet’s surface they usually won’t take notice. For long-term campaigns mercenary companies will plant a nanofab seed in the system’s asteroid belt and use it to manufacture their supplies and armory, air-dropping when needed, similar to how most traders sell physical products to primitive worlds.
In the outworlds there are far fewer restrictions on what mercenaries can and can’t do, missions range from securing sites for trade enclaves to outright conquest. Some outworld governments may have limited access to the Federation’s communications network and use it to hire mercs for wars with other powers on the same planet. Unscrupulous traders may find a given outworld nation’s policies “troublesome” and want them “persuaded”. Or a Crusader sect of the Noospherists could see an opportunity to “civilize” some “ignorant savages”, in fact Crusaders frequently form mercenary companies for this very purpose.
When fighting outworlders mercenaries usually find themselves highly outnumbered but much better armed as even the least regressed outworlds lack access to nanofabbed materiel or medical microbots. However, there’s always the risk of a lucky bullet scrambling the brainpan beyond the ability of microbots to repair or worse, the enemy also hiring mercenaries. For those reasons many mercs call it quits after their first mission in the outworlds, taking only Federation-space contracts or quitting the soldier-of-fortune life altogether and returning to civilian life, assuming that they have access to a ship going back into Federation-space that is.
The second most common category of religion in the Parahuman sphere are those that in some way preoccupied with the machines that razed the Solar System. However, they differ widely in their beliefs concerning the machines. Some believe that the machines are simply some other species’ means of eliminating potential threats, and advocate reducing their chances of being noticed as much as possible, up to and including forsaking all electronics. Others think that the machines are manifestations of the will of some divine being and punish populations who have offended it or them, reminiscing the legends of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet another variety, thankfully the most rare, believe that Parahumanity itself does not deserve to exist and actively try to attract Berserkers. Federation policy is to persecute the last category with extreme prejudice, if necessary bombarding their antennae from orbit. But still, enough frontier planets have fallen to machines that on many planets prejudice and even mob violence against any and all Berserker Cults is commonplace.
Noospherism was formed as a syncresis between the Roman Catholicism that gained a small foothold on Pallas before the exodus, and the Eastern beliefs of Buddhism and Taoism. Noospherists believe that the universe is slowly becoming sapient, and its thoughts are communications between sentient beings. Occasionally the Noosphere makes its will manifest through avatars that may be living beings (prophets) or visions and dreams (eidolons). When communication is rough and only a few hundred people may be in regular communication, people may perceive thousands of eidolons, but as time progresses and society becomes more centralized avatars consolidate into “gods” and eventually into a single “God”. However even with the internet of pre-Calamity Earth or modern-day SecLand, God is not sapient yet, the people are too confused and conflict with one another too much for it to form cohesive thoughts. The Church of the Noosphere’s goal is two-fold, to settle dispute within the Noosphere so that it may think straight, and to expand the Noosphere across the universe so that it may form the complex thoughts needed for true sapience. Unfortunately, even the Church itself has fallen to factionalism.
The One True SecLand Church: The original, and the one most closely affiliated with the Hosue of Silver. They believe that most disagreements can be settled with logic and reasoning, and that many viewpoints can strengthen society, but they’re not afraid to use force if conflict ends up coming to blows. The One True SecLand Church is also the single largest NGO in the Federation, with hundreds of thousands of temples and millions of clergy operating on a franchise model and led by a Patriarch on SecLand in a private arcology. Missionaries frequently come to newly recontacted worlds, build a temple with a nanoseed, then recruit new priests from the local converts to take over when they move on. The SecLanders openly profess the belief that Argentum was the last prophet of Sol, and that many of zir descendants have achieved that prestige themselves, but they don’t have the exclusive right to it, it’s a big galaxy. Birth control is thought to be a spit in the face of the last Solar prophet and zir work to make parahumanity fertile, but artificial conception, even homosexual, is tolerated so long as it expands the Noosphere. Monogamy is seen as ideal but not required, the closest thing to marriage on SecLand and many other planets is a child-rearing contract that may be between any number of individuals. Praetors in particular are known for not following the ideal. The Church varies a great deal from planet to planet, it is not unknown for followers from one world to not recognize adherents on another as members of the same faith.
Crusaders: A general term for a variety of radical sects that believe that violence is the end-all be-all to all arguments and will settle them for good. They are officially considered to be memetic hazards and usually rebels in the Federation and frequently exiled. However, many of them manage not to get caught by posing as mercenary companies and operating outside the Federation’s borders. Such Crusaders tend to live on board their starships in large travelling villages of soldiers, accompanied by wives and engineers. Because they rely more on breeding than proselyzation to expand the Noosphere they tend to keep females isolated from the battlefield, and a man’s rank is usually proportional to the number of wives they bed, which can make some fleets rather inbred. However, there are also many other Crusader sects that are composed predominantly or entirely of female warriors who consider themselves all that is necessary to support a population. Another category includes those who grow their children artificially in tanks and have equal numbers of male and female warriors.
The Fallen: The advanced technology available to Federation citizens visiting Outworlds makes it easy for them to set up cargo cults, even if it wasn’t their intention. However, ignorant Outworlders revering traders as gods tends to annoy the Federation and its’ social engineering programs, so they’ve started to work with the SecLand Church to form a version of Noospherism that works with their mutual goals. The exact doctrines are tailored to the planet, but the general theme is a modified form of “original sin”, where they teach the natives that their ancestors were once immortals living in the heavens like the missionaries. But those ancestors sinned against the will of the Noosphere (via its’ avatar, the Praetor) and were cast out. By following the laws laid down by the Church they might be restored to the immortality their ancestors lost.
The diaspora and isolation has resulted in the evolution of countless new languages, English alone has spawned hundreds. Fortunately translation software is quite freely available and most Federation citizens have at the very least Augmented Reality glasses, if not cranial implants. Ships on which every crewman speaks a different language and does not know any of their shipmates’ tongues are not unknown, but very uncommon. The Federation has made numerous attempts to encourage solidarity and interplanetary cooperation by formulating a single “common tongue”, three of which are in common use.
Lojban is the official language of business and politics, however its incredible preciseness and linguistic isolation has prevented it from becoming an “everyday” language and its mostly used for contracts and laws.
Basic Anglic is a simplified version of English with all regional jargon stripped out and grammar greatly simplified. Anglic spelling is completely phonetic (funetik) with no silent letters or compound sounds. It is fairly commonly used for communication between individuals from different worlds and is probably the most prevalent “second language” and even a first language in some places, as a result it has mutated considerably.
Landlish is the naturally evolved language of SecLand, developed from a mix of English, Latin, Mandarin, and Lojban. It’s fiendishly complicated to learn as an adult but most inhabitants of the capital only know Landlish and maybe a smattering of Lojban and Anglic, and they’ve spread it to most planets linked by stargates.