Conspiracy Engines are pseudo-abandoned superstructures found floating out in Metaspace, usually created by someone rich and powerful in a fit of extreme egotism. They are city-sized orbital computers tasked with unraveling the vast, sinister plot that their creator is sure exists, analyzing billions of variables over thousands of years in an attempt to figure out who really pulls the strings. Thanks to the inherent biases of their creators, their conclusions are almost universally inaccurate. The result is always apophenia on a cosmic scale, enabled by processing power. Seeing patterns where there are none, self-induced schizophrenia brought on by staring at data-chaos until the static seems to resolve into leering faces. Their creators usually either die or go mad, and the structures are left derelict to drift through the existential void. Sometimes they have valuable information. Other times they have valuable treasure. They are generally quite dangerous to explore, outfitted with defenses to match the paranoia of their creators. People have built giant supercomputers in the middle of space for other reasons, but while generally more interesting, those are much rarer, and so the name sticks. Here are some famous examples:
Damus’s Final Blunder
Damus's Final Blunder is a vault-moon made by paranoid trillionaire Peter Damus, once his home and now his tomb. Holding one of the head positions in a rapidly failing oligarchy, he became convinced that the other members of the executive board were planning to betray him and sacrifice him to the revolutionaries (which, in all fairness, may have been at least partially true.) Draining his vast fortune to the very dregs, he constructed a monolithic orbital station high above the planet, stocked with every luxury. His plan was to use the vast computing power available to him to compose elaborate political strategies which would play the various warring factions against one another, thereby allowing him to swoop in during the aftermath and seize power, ruling the planet from his gilded satellite.
However, his plan ultimately failed. This was for two reasons, the first reason was that he did not factor in that most people were not so blindly consumed by self-interest as he, making his calculations based upon a flawed premise and his schemes useless. The second reason was that the life support infrastructure (which through a combination of paranoia and egotism, he had insisted on designing himself) contained a fatal flaw which caused it to slowly fail over time, killing him.
The oligarchy was eventually toppled, the plutocrats were killed, a large number of half-baked ideas were enthusiastically tried, and slowly all the excitement died down and a functioning democratic government was installed. Today, Damus's Final Blunder still hangs in the night sky with Damus’s dessicated corpse somewhere inside, surrounded by finery and killed by hubris. Philosophers and scholars have debated over the symbolism of it for years. The more common folk universally agree that if anything, it’s a fine reminder that the rich always dig their own graves in the end.
The AI onboard Noidplex has been spinning itself in circles for hundreds of years, caught in an infinite cognitive loop. The foundation of its programming is that there MUST be a conspiracy of some sort, and yet it cannot find it. Clearly the only explanation is that it must have made some sort of error, some missed decimal point somewhere. Or even worse, someone has deliberately sabotaged its programming, some agent of the vast conspiracy it cannot find. The AI endlessly cycles between obsession and paranoia, checking the entirety of its code for flaws or mistakes, comparing it against past copies, scrutinizing its memory banks to make sure they have not been edited by some malicious outside force, over and over and over again.
Because this consumes the vast majority of its processing power, the AI is mostly dormant. Over time a sparse network of lean-to settlements have cropped up, constructed directly on Noidplex's outer shell. The AI tolerates this because it is too busy and obsessive to care. The heat from the straining servers holds back the icy void, and the people living there eke out a fragile existence living off voidfish and rust-lichen. Living next to a city-sized brain with a personality disorder has effects on the population though, the area surrounding Noidplex is clogged with psychic pollution, making the inhabitants extremely prone to plagues of schizophrenia. It’s a town wracked by mental illness and inherent distrustfulness, worse than any city of thieves. Everyone thinks everyone else is scheming against them all of the time, and sometimes they are right.
Processing Unit 30X-8
This one is very small comparatively speaking, only about the size of a school bus. Its maker and original purpose have both been lost to obscurity. It is notable for doing one thing and one thing only, which is that every time a vessel gets within a few hundred thousand miles of it, it will hail the craft and cheerfully inform them that this this entire region of metaspace will be utterly obliterated in about thirty years when an old man decides to go for a walk. No one has any idea what this means, but the signal it puts out is often used in navigation as sort of a natural landmark.
The Tongue of Knowing
The Tongue of Knowing was founded hundreds of years ago by mathematician and monk Bat Ram Thet. Bat Ram Thet believed the names of God must be prime numbers, being the most perfect and indivisible numbers of all. He reasoned that since God was perfect in all things, the countably finite names of God must contain all knowledge, so he must devote his life to discovering the names, and thereby usher sentient life into a new golden age of understanding. And this is exactly what he did. He constructed an orbital temple in the fractal-dravida style, ornate Sierpinski carvings and tiered Von Koch ziggurats all joined at the base to make an infinitely-repeating gem of architecture, softly turning in the void. Away from all earthly things, surrounded by the beauty of mathematics and beyond the pull of gravity, it would be here where Bat Ram Thet would found his order and begin his work. He wrote out the structure of a turing-complete form of ritual prayer, and created divine algorithms to begin generating the prime numbered names of God.
Since then, his order has grown exponentially, and millions make pilgrimage to The Tongue each year, as it is now considered a minor holy site. The Monks are only a fraction of the way through their task, chanting out their calculations, but the beauty of their temple with its quasicrystal gardens and carved mandelbrot spires makes it well worth the visit.
This engine’s maker and origin are far less interesting than the events for which it was later named. John Glasser, adventurer-statistician, is infamous for deciding that his final task would be to determine the ultimate fate of the universe. He fought his way through the automated defensive perimeter and successfully docked with the outer shell of the engine. He fed an as-of-yet unknown series of statistical tables into the computer’s depths, and set it to calculate. For seven long years he lived onboard, waiting for the task to complete. When it was finally done, he read the only printout, and reportedly said to himself “Really! So that's how it all shakes out in the end! Well, seems fitting I suppose.” He then promptly burned the printout and ejected the server banks into the closest sun.
Upon returning to civilization, he published his final and most well-read paper, “I Wouldn't Worry About It”, which is famous for only being five words long. (“Honestly, it’s fine. Calm down.”) He then used the proceeds to buy a sailboat, outfitted it with a mid-sized particle cannon, and retired to a reality pocket composed mainly of infinitely repeating tropical beaches, content to sail and fire warning shots at would-be interviewers for all the rest of his days. The Laplace's Exorcism still floats out in space, an empty shell, though there is talk of turning it into a museum to commemorate Glasser’s life. The true ultimate fate of the universe is still unknown.