Jan 1, 2013

Oib and its Interventionists

Oib and one of its moons
At the end of Chapter One of Exode Parthney is ready to leave the planet of his birth and will soon be on his way to Oib where he will be trained as an Interventionist agent.

The Paired Planets
Is Oib a planet or an asteroid? According to the definitions used by the Buld Clan both Hemmal and Oib are asteroids because they both received large amounts of water by having been at the edge of a forming asteroid belt in the Koly star system. The Buld residents of Oib call the star of the Hemmal/Oib system "Koly", one of the words for "star" in the ancient Buld Clan language.

Hemmal is slightly larger than Earth while Oib is about half the size of Earth. Since they are large and they both have liquid metal cores they also meet the Buld definition of being planets. The Buld who live on Oib refer to Hemmal and Oib as the "paired planets".

While the crust of Oib has a large amount of water, near the surface there is only frozen water and Oib has no oceans of liquid water. Hemmal orbits closer to Koly and has a large water ocean with little land. Oxygen producing organisms in that ocean long ago gave Hemmal an oxygen-rich atmosphere.

Oib has a thin atmosphere of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and some water. The weak magnetic field of Oib does not completely shield the planet against stellar or cosmic radiation. The Buld inhabitants of Oib, about 50,000 in all, live under the surface. Like Hemmal, Oib has space elevators that facilitate movement between the surface and orbit.

The Buld Clan colonized Oib about 15,000 years ago. At that time, Oib had three moons the smallest of which was transformed into a spaceship construction facility where during the past 15,000 years many Buld spaceships have been constructed and sent off to travel between the stars, mostly moving between the many planets of the galactic core where humans reside. Even more colony stations have been built that remain in the Koly star system, mostly within the asteroid belt beyond Oib. Some of the Buld colony stations are in orbit around moons of the system's gas giants. The total population of Buld living in the scattered space stations of the Koly star system is now greater than the population of Oib.

Oxygen-producing artificial lifeform on Oib
The other two original moons of Oib have become giant factories for the production of solar energy collectors. A long range plan of the Buld is to eventually place enough solar collectors in orbit around Oib so that it will be possible to warm the surface of Oib above the freezing point of water. Several asteroids have been shifted into orbits around Oib where they are mined for resources and they are now counted among its moons.

Another major planetary engineering project is on Oib itself. The Buld have designed several artificial lifeforms that are spreading across the surface where they use Koly light to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. Another family of artificial lifeforms functions under the surface to facilitate the movement of geothermally heated water towards the surface. The Buld have also begun a long-term project that will start to heat the core of Oib and prevent the magnetic field from declining further.

Another major project for the Buld is moving mass to Oib from other parts of the Koly star system. In particular, they have been shifting nitrogen and carbon dioxide to Oib in an effort to build up its atmosphere. For the past 7 million years the space elevators of Hemmal have been used to lift water into orbit. Most of that water is redirected to Oib.

The original Buld who first came to Hemmal wanted to study the Unetic Clan, the Prelands who live on Hemmal. Buld first took up residence on Hemmal, but later, as discussed below, conditions changed and other Buld colonized Oib. Only a minority of the Buld continue to study the Prelands: these Buld were known as the lisden, but now they are more commonly called the Buld scholars.

A major distinction between the Buld who live on Hemmal and the Buld on Oib is the different interactions that they have with the pek. There are no humanoid pek on Oib. On Hemmal the lives of the Buld are constantly supported by humanoid pek who live within Buld society and apply their advanced nanite technology to shape the lives of the Buld. The pek still live among the Buld of Oib, but in the form of the non-humanoid meonuck, as described below. The term "pek" is not used on Oib, but meonuck are a non-humanoid type of pek.

On the Origins of the Buld Interventionists
The Buld on Oib also have access to another type of nanotechnology that was developed about 20,000 years ago with the help of the Fru'wu. The main shift due to Fru'wu intervention into the Buld Clan culture was that some Buld were given the chance to free themselves from dependence on pek nanites: these "liberated" Buld became the Interventionists. The Buld Interventionists originated as a branch of the lisden and after they no longer had pek nanites interfering with their brain function they quickly developed the first Buld written language. With help from the Fru'wu, they were able to exclude pek nanites from their brains and then liberate themselves from the meonuck, having found the means to use Fru'wu-inspired technology to support their existence in the absence of pek nanites. The Buld Interventionists keep themselves apart from the other Buld in order to prevent themselves from again becoming "infected" by pek nanites.

Buld (and humans) that host large numbers of pek nanites in their brains are unable to use written language and almost completely unable to use and manufacture tools. This nanite-mediated modulation of brain function is how the pek prevent humans from developing a technological culture over long periods of time. Other limitations on technology development by the Interventionists are their small number and the fact that they are scattered widely within the galactic core on planets like Oib and lack an efficient means of interstellar communication.

Freed of pek nanites, the lisden that would become the Buld Interventionists studied the technology of Buld spaceships (which had been provided to the Buld by the pek) and their newly won understanding that technology allowed for the first Buld-constructed spaceships. The Buld could now make their own colony ships for travel between the stars at near light speed as well as colony stations that allowed the Buld to start settling worlds like Oib.

The first act of "intervention" by the Buld scholars who were becoming the Buld Interventionists was initiated with the further connivance of the Fru'wu who provided the location if Earth. The Buld Interventionists sent one of their spaceships to Earth with the intention of making "first contact" with Earthlings. In Exode, after the long journey out to Earth from the galactic core, that spaceship is finally nearing Earth.

Pla'va (right) and Ka'po, the meonuck, on approach to Oib
With the help of the secretive Buld Interventionists, a faction of the Buld scholars of Oib have been able to adapt available technologies to the goal of terraforming Oib, but most Buld have little interest in technology. This is due to the fact that the brains of most Buld remain infected by pek nanites.

The Meonuck
Unlike the Buld of Hemmal, the lives of the Buld on Oib are not organized around community temples. However, the Buld of Oib each have a symbiotic familiar known as a meonuck, an important Buld cultural element that began on the earliest Buld spacecraft. These meonuck are composed of pek nanites and they facilitate both the feeding of the Buld and a rudimentary reproductive function that allows for slow growth of the Buld population. The meonuck also regulate Buld reproduction in a manner similar to that achieved by temple bothets on Hemmal. The meonuck are also the source of the nanites that colonize Buld brain tissue when Buld go through the Change, although on Oib the Change is viewed as a medical issue and educational opportunity, not cause for a religious ritual.

Parthney and Pla'va
In Chapter Two of Exode, Parthney is transported from Hemmal to Oib in a spaceship piloted by Pla'va. Pla'va is a special Interventionist agent who can move among the Buld of Oib without fear of thons brain being infected by pek nanites. When attempts to remove pek nanites from Buld brains were first successful, it was learned that the normal Buld reproductive process could be subverted and provide a way to "immunize" such "liberated" Buld against reinfection with pek nanites.

The Interventionists are particularly interested in recruiting "false" Buld into their ranks. False Buld (like Parthney) are genetically identical to Earthlings and are used as Interventionist agents on Earth. The Interventionists take pains to keep their operations secret and themselves free of pek nanites, although experience suggests that despite precautions their activities are constantly monitored by the pek. With alarming frequency entire groups of Interventionists are suddenly eliminated.

One of the deepest secrets of the human Interventionists on Oib is that they work in coordination with the Fru'wu. Most Buld believe that there was a period of contact between the Buld and the Fru'wu thousands of years in the past, but the Buld Interventionists have secretly continued to cooperate with the Fru'wu.

Of particular relevance to Parthney when he reaches Oib is the fact that about 10,000 years ago the Fru'wu provided teleportation technology that allows the efficient transfer of human Interventionist agents to Earth. The top priority of the Buld Interventionists during the past 10,000 years has been to accelerate technological progress on Earth in an effort to make sure that Earthlings will at least understand what is happening when the first Buld spaceship reaches Earth.

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