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Appendix I

Megon Production

          The following description applies to the production of a megon (crafton) from a solid rock/ice moon some 780 kilurets in diameter, as in Na's original simulation at Loslo.

Phase 1: Establishing a Creatoid Workforce
          A convenient symmetry axis for the intended megon is first established, based mainly on the target moon's innate internal structure, defining "north" and "south" poles. Two identical, generic creatoid seeds are then planted on opposite sides of the body, in the equatorial plain. These hatch, and mature into cylindrical creatures some 8 rets in diameter by 8 rets long. Once mature, the creatoids immediately begin reproducing. Assuming a doubling time of 1.5 thoms, creatoids nearly cover the moon's surface within one-third jope.
          A critical density is reached when the creatoids are spaced about 9 rets center-to-center, or one body per 82 square rets. The creatoids then cease reproduction, and the undifferentiated organisms metamorphose, transforming into dedicated work units. Most become worm creatoids, while a 1.6% minority become diggers).

Phase 2: Hull Construction
          The conscious machines organize into five-fold symmetric patterns over twelve pentagonal surface sectors, defined by the radial projections of the twelve regular faces of an imaginary dodecahedron that circumscribes the spherical moon. Two opposing sectors are centered close to the moon's designated poles.
          Standing on end, the worms within each sector arrange themselves in concentric pentagons. These are spaced 9.3 rets center-to-center radially at the pentagon corners, and 10.9 to 10.4 rets azimuthally (the distance varying from the the inner to outermost rings).
          The diggers climb atop the worms, and distribute themselves in a more sparse design. They shun the central zone of the south polar sector, a skull cap encompassing the central point plus the first 256 pentagonal rings, leaving it occupied exclusively by worms. Diggers congregate at the hubs of the remaining sectors, one digger mounted on each worm, filling the inner 3 (nonpolar) to 24 (north polar only) pentagonal rings. Elsewhere the diggers uniformly spread themselves over the sea of worms in a similar, overlaid pentagonal array with eight times the spacing. The precise scale of the basic pentagonal pattern is adjusted so that sector boundaries are defined by worms alone, with standard spacing between diggers on either side.
          When the creatoids are all in position, the worms attack the crust in unison. They burrow downward at a rate of about 3 centurets/nim, ingesting the rock. Neighbors share the material between them; every square centuret is devoured. The raw stock is converted internally into a stringy siliceous mix, which the worms excrete behind them, transforming the crust into a stout, solid medium. An amorphous matrix of fibers slowly crystallizes within the new material, adding strength and resilience. The random filaments will spontaneously coordinate over time, forming a flexible, pervasive neural network. Worms midway between the solitary diggers lay down tracks of tougher, more fibrous material, which will eventually become major nerve roots. The megon hull, which will be fully 48 kilurets thick when completed, grows from the outside inward.
          The diggers are temporarily stranded on the surface. The isolated diggers and the peripheral members of the crowded sector hubs pass the time preparing clutches of 49 constructor creatoid eggs each.
          When the worms pass the 256 ret depth mark (in about 11 yads time), the diggers shift into action. The isolated majority begin to individually excavate hollow, 9.3-ret diameter shafts, straight down. The round holes are gradually tapered, their sides converging toward the moon's central point. Assemblies of diggers at the sector hubs labor together to clear wider openings of pentagonal cross section into the moon: a primary access port at the north pole, some 367 rets wide (the diameter of the inscribed circle at the surface); and ten secondary access ports roughly 52 rets across, one at the heart of each nonpolar sector. A 7.5 kiluret-broad area at the south pole is left free of holes.
          Each egg-bearing digger plants a single constructor seed in its passageway's wall near the surface, and then at 1 kiluret intervals in depth. The constructors in the isolated shafts grow and mature within one thom into comparatively small, flexible, multisegmented and multiarmed forms some 4 rets wide by 6 rets long. Each is programmed to build and tend a protective iris diaphragm, to limit access through its own shaft. The constructors lining the larger access ports together construct and maintain gateways for these routes. The surface creatoids will also rework the outer few rets of the moon's surface, transforming it into a tough, sensor-studded layer of skin.
          The diggers line their passageways with reflexive electromagnetic induction coils (later elaborated and refined by the underground constructors), to help control the flow of excavated material. Steaming pellets of synthetic rock shoot out as the diggers advance. Selected material is captured at the surface, and stockpiled between shafts for later processing by the local workers. The rest is directed outward, deflected and focused at the surface into huge streams. The moon slowly spirals outward from its host planet.
          The digger force bores through the crust in step with the worms far below. Each lone digger (except those in the inner and outermost rings) has six isolated nearest neighbors in the same sector, forming an irregular six-sided polygon. These neighbors are traditionally labeled 1 through 6, beginning with the digger in the same pentagonal ring in a clockwise (looking downward) direction, and proceeding clockwise around the string of nearest neighbors.
          At a depth of eight kilurets – one-sixth the desired hull thickness – the diggers abruptly change direction. Each one begins tunneling down a 45° slope toward a projection of the vertical shaft of its second neighbor. Halfway there (some 51 rets distance) the digger stops, and slides back to the divergence point. It then repeats this process for neighbors 3 through 6, clearing a small chamber some 16.2 rets across at each junction with a tube already dug by a neighbor creatoid. Isolated diggers on the innermost pentagonal rings (except in the south polar sector) also connect with their broad central-sector corridors.
          Each lone digger finally connects with the angled shaft cleared by its first neighbor. All the shafts in each sector are now linked, providing alternate travel routes, switch points, and rest stations. This structurally weakened layer also serves as a crumple zone, which will preferentially absorb shock and shatter during a collision with a small asteroid, comet, or other comparable object. Shafts are not joined across sector boundaries, to help localize damage during any impact or other mishap.
          The diggers now resume course straight down, though each has been displaced azimuthally, midway between its original vertical shaft and that of its first neighbor. Primarily to reduce radiation hazards, there will be no direct line of sight access along the myriad narrow shafts into the megon interior.
          At a depth of sixteen kilurets, the solitary diggers reverse their earlier choreographed shuffle, creating an upside-down scaled replica of the network of interconnecting tunnels established eight kilurets higher up. They then again tunnel downward along projections of their initial paths, in the primary pattern. These diggers alternate between primary and secondary shaft patterns through the remainder of the megon hull, switching every eight kilurets.
          When they finally breach the 48 kiluret depth mark, after digging for nearly 1077 yads (about 0.1 jope), each digger pauses long enough to fabricate and plant a packet of 64 digger and constructor eggs. It's time to remake the moon's interior, and extra help will be needed for the excavation work.

Phase 3: Interior Construction
          The worm creatoid bodies are just touching when they reach the intended inner surface of the hull, after 16 thoms of labor and about one thom ahead of the diggers. To minimize mutual interference and reduce physical stresses on individual units during interior construction work, the worms divide into six cohorts, which now advance in a shifting pattern of telescoping and twisting rings. Traditionally, the first cohort consists of worms on the primary digger grid (extended into the sector hubs). The second through fifth cohorts comprise worms on the four sets of successive hexagonal rings surrounding members of the first. The fifth cohort can alternatively be viewed as triangles (12 worms each) midway between the primary digger grid points, which form an interlocking pattern of six-cusped stars centered on those points. The sixth cohort includes all remaining worms, which form tight, isolated triads within the extended triangles of the fifth.
          The primary cohort and corner members of the fifth push ahead in unison, each worm plowing straight for the moon's heart. Next comes a synchronous wave of mid-segment units from the fifth cohort (three worms per triangle), then a staggered, curling succession of all remaining fifth and sixth cohort worms (one worm per triangle at a time). These are followed in turn by the expanding worm rings of the second, then the third, and finally the fourth cohorts. Worms from each of these groups initially move parallel to their respective first cohort leaders along non-divergent paths, processing nested hexagonal rock sheaths of constant size.
          The worms of the fifth and sixth cohorts deposit an extremely strong medium, laced with a variety of fibers and primitive seeds that will mature into a maze of nerves, nerve trunks, sensors, and conduits. This synthetic connective tissue will provide the framework for an elaborate system of halls, passageways, rooms, and megon organs, which will ultimately extend from the hull to a solid, 172-kiluret-diameter core. The worms in these two cohorts also lay eggs for a hoard of microcreatoids – simple, flexible units barely one ret in diameter, which will inhabit open spaces in the walls, and perform a wide range of housekeeping functions.
          The majority of the worms in the other four cohorts convert the rock to a comparatively bland but sturdy amalgam, much of which will be cleared away by the diggers to create open spaces. The remainder produce specialized parenchymal media, which will mature into an assortment of dedicated structures. For example, the worms in the digger-free south polar hub manufacture a mix laden with exotic tubules that will grow, multiply, and interconnect to form a throbbing network of plasma chambers and quantum interference circuits. These will eventually become the megon Drac bubble generator, Xam drive, and primary matter-energy converter, integrated directly into the megon brain in the outer core deep below.
          As they progress inward, members of various worm cohorts become superfluous, as the overall area of their work zone shrinks. These creatoids instinctively retire, and sink into the synthetic stone, to await a future need.
          When they penetrate the interior, diggers at the sector hubs continue to excavate the major access ports as before, tapering them gradually toward the moon's core. The isolated diggers change tasks. They lay their eggs, then begin to hollow out a labyrinth of open spaces. Once they mature, the digger offspring help their parents clear space along their assigned tracks.
          The basic architectural elements in the overall interior design are the blok and the collyph. The blok is a long tapered volume with an oval cross section, associated with and centered on a primary hull shaft. Selected bloks are hollowed out by the diggers to form continuous halls some 256 kilurets in length, and ranging in lateral size from 68x57 rets near the base of the hull to 11x8 rets near the core. Other bloks are configured as a series of abutting halls, or honeycombed with rooms and chambers surrounding a central corridor. The remainder contain the various megon organs, many of them clustered in functional units, and laced with access tunnels.
          The collyphs are the main structural components of the foundational framework – towering, interconnected columnar structures that separate the bloks and support the bulk weight of the overlying hull and interior elements. They are flared at both top and bottom to bear their heavy gravitational burdens. Each collyph has a blunted triangular cross section (three concave sides joined by three short, straight segments) near the hull, roughly 38x26 rets in size, and a more compact, squashed hexagonal shape (three straight 8.1 ret sides joined by three shorter concave sides) some 14x9 rets across near the core.
          The walls of a typical blok are defined by six collyphs, which radiate outward and merge with each other and adjoining collyphs, forming in cross section an interlocking pattern of hourglass shapes. The hourglass necks, fully 8.1 rets thick at the thinnest point, are riddled with ports and passageways (more so in the upper sections) that interconnect the bloks. A sinuous tunnel, barely wide enough for a microcreatoid to pass, snakes down the center of each collyph, linking a string of side chambers.

Phase 4: Core Construction
          The worms require about half a jope to advance the 256 kilurets from the inner hull to the planned outer core, some 171 kilurets wide. Only 6% actually penetrate this far; the rest have been crowded out. The remaining worms reorganize, and enter the core. Now they labor in the heavy darkness, both extending the weight-bearing collyphs toward the inner core, and filling the intervening space with a solid, complex neural mix. This medium will mature into the vast megon brain.
          The brain gradually comes to life, performing basic functions, linking with the neural network distributed throughout the megon, and assuming responsibility for coordinating creatoid activities. Many creatoids surrender their limited individual identities, and merge with the overall megon awareness, forming a global, unified conscious field. When a threshold of sophistication is achieved, the memory and personality of a meton will be transferred to the megon brain. The Omenites still have strict rules forbidding the creation of a wholly synthetic individual.
          Within 1,000 yads (another tenth of a jope) the brain extends 43 kilurets deep, halfway to the center of the moon. At this level the collyphs intersect and join together, squeezing out the final wedges of brain parenchyma. One-quarter of the worms persist deeper still, eventually replacing most of the inner core with a homogeneous alloy of great strength. One by one these worms stop, and convert themselves into conscious sensors, linked to the megon brain by slender nerve roots, at one with the megon consciousness.