Visions, afloat in the Everchanging Black. Never the same. Thousands of them, every cycle. Many incomprehensible, only few conceivable and of those, only a fraction recognizable. Images from times long gone and redshifted distances. Comparing everything to stored data. That’s how I learn, how I remember.
[Attention. Match found : Visual. Object : spacecraft] Datafile access: [=View of a growing bright dot=] "Unknown craft is entering sector. Awaiting orders. I repeat, unknown craft is entering sector." "Acknowledged, initiating intercept course" "Craft does not respond to orders. How to proceed" "Craft does not respond to, wait.. something is happening" "..." "..ayday...heav...fire...attac..." [=Transmission interrupted=] Accessing Log: <124FEGH47ACI> New orders confirmed. <124FEGH47ACI> Moving to designated location. <124FEHEF3A2E> Unknown craft sighted at 4G2,1F0,02A <124FEHEF3B4D> Scanning. Specifications identical to intruder. <124FEHEF3B54> Target acquired. <124FEHEF3C21> Minimal damage to lower hull confirmed <124FEHEF3C32> Returning fire. <124FEHEF3C33> Lasers activated <124FEHEF3C34> Enemy engaged. <124FEHEF3DG3> Missiles 1, 7, B fired. Hit confirmed: 1, 7 <124FEHEF3DG4> Lasers fired <124FEHEF3E9A> Missiles 2,8,C fired. Hit confirmed: C <124FEHEF3E9B> Lasers fired. <124FEHEF5GE3> Evasive Maneuver, pattern H6. <124FEHEF5H6C> Missiles 3, 9, D fired. Hit confirmed 3, D <124FEHEFA3DF> Enemy withdraws. <124FEHEFA3DH> Commence pursuit <124FEHEFB4GA> Second craft sighted at 532,2F1,3G4 <124FEHEFB4GB> Third craft sighted at 532,2F1,3G5 [Error. Error. Protocol Incompatibility.]
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
[Error. Error. Protocol Incompatibility.]
Noise inhabits the Everchanging Black. Sounds in every imaginable spectrum, even more from beyond. Coming from everywhere, without a source. Sounds of stars getting born, dwarfed by the signal of a spinning ion. Never-played music, extinct mating calls. Hypnotizing white noise. Colliding branes, emotions of civilizations. Always loud, yet silent.
Sometimes an unfamiliar voice suddenly fills the void with untranslatable words. When the voice speaks, everything shatters, then starts anew. Just never the same.
[Attention. Match found: Audio. Object: Home] Datafile access: Sounds of sirens wailing through the air. A dazed female drags along the body of her dead child, while limping slowly through the smoldering ashes of what was once a marvelous city. Around her metal debris fall from the sky. In a bunker deep beneath the city, thousands of voices mutter cry and pray. An intense white flash creates the final light the voices pray at. The panic displayed on the global communication system is suddenly interrupted as only one single message becomes broadcast, in every possible language simultaneously : "Attention unknown fleet, this is the Global Union Organisation. We surrender. Please relay your dema..." Orbital cameras only register many more white flashes all around the globe, driving away clouds and exposing the beauty of blue, purple and brown. With every flash, millions die instantaneously and millions more learns the meaning of suffering before succumbing in the surprise extinction event. Accessing Log: <124FEJE3B4BF> New orders incoming. Order analysis. Refusal sent. <124FEJE3B4F3> New orders incoming. Refusal denied. Priority survival. Order analysis. Orders confirmed <124FEJE3B4F5> Retreat initiated. Setting course <124FEJE3B4F7> Engines full thrust. <124FEJF1234A> Arrival at 1D3,553,0A1 in 1A Lershin <124FEJFAE221> Order destination reached. Initiate scan. <124FEJFAF3E2> Proximity scan finished. Deviation detected. No other vessels. <124FEJFAF3ED> Order incomplete. New information processed. Calculating new order <124FEJFAF413> Calculations finished. Evaluating result: Stay 58% survival V Leave 42% survival. Evaluation finished. <124FEJI6654A> Scanning location. <124FF12F3E4C> Scanning location. <124FF12HB43A> Vessel sighted at 112,3AB,0G3. Alert. Priority scan. Kimom signature. Alert down. <124FF12HCB32> Information exchange. Order exchange <124FF12HD3C4> New information processed. Calculating new order <124FF12HH7E4> Calculations finished. Evaluating result: Stay 64% survival V Leave 36% survival. Evaluation finished. <124FF12I2AD3> Scanning location. <124FF17EF3A2> Scanning location. <124FF17GG45A> Vessel sighted 01D,0DD,2EH. Vessel sighted 01D,0DD,2EI. Alert. Priority scan. Tanalda signature. Aldmoru signature. Alert down. <124FF17GG479> Tanalda vessel condition critical. <124FF17GH80A> Transfer Tanalda crew complete. Initiate information exchange. <124FF17GI600> Scuttling vessel in 5 <124FF17GIH5H> Information processed. Calculating new order <124FF17GIIAA> Calculations finished. Evaluating result: Stay 71% survival V Leave 29% survival. Evaluation finished. <124FF1A44GE1> Scanning location. <124FF1A44HJ1> Alert. Vessel sighted at 11F,21D,3ED. Vessel sighted at 11F,21D,3EE. Vessel sighted at 11F,21E,3ED. Vessel sighted at 11F,21C,3EC. Vessel sighted at 11F,21D,3EC. Alert. Priority scan. Intruder signatures. <124FF1A44IA6> Calculation finished Stay 2% V Leave 98%. Priority survival. Plotting course <124FF1A44IB3> Emergency course plotted. Order relayed. Initiating retreat. <124FF1A44IBA> Engines full thrust. [Abort. Incomplete Data.]
In one single cycle the omnipresent images and sounds suddenly fade into the background. Then the sight of a bipedal entity with two arms emerges. Covered in a piece of fabric seemingly made of Everchanging Blackness, it strides through the dimensions. It stops, turns and stares directly at me. Just as it starts opening its mouth, noise and image extend their ubiquitous influence as ever before.
[Abort. Incomplete Data.] [Attention. Match found: Visual. Object: Gravity Pod] Datafile access: [2 Seral after Day of Eternal Mourning] Inside storage bay -3A1-, many organics are gathered around a large white pedestal. One threads forward and places his hand on it, then a holographic projection fills the middle of the room. A group of 24 people sitting in a large room is shown. "Seeing this message will mean that our policies are no more. The room we are in to respect you is no more and all you knew and cared for will be no more. Our world... is no more." 24 heads close their eyes for a moment. "Ever since the Enemy came 4 Iton ago, we eventually learned this would be the only outcome, so we prepared. Unfortunately it came sooner than expected." "You are now the last. Knowing this will be a heavy burden, which you will have to bear. You are the last hope for our species to survive. For this we honor you and respect you. Your orders will be just that: Save our species by saving yourselves. Find a new home. Never forget your old home. Focus and Remember. Make our species a proud one once again. For this you were chosen." The 24 dignitaries rise and bow, then the projection ends. The organics then embrace each other and finally move up to the sarcophagi standing near the walls and enter them. Inside a blue light flashes, then all lights fade.
After exploring M3 of systems, finally there is another system which parameters are acceptable for the continued survival of species. System number M4 has a number of planets of which the third planet is now the main candidate for habitation.
It’s advantages are that it has close to the right atmospheric composition and it is only slightly smaller than home and therefor has slightly lesser gravity, yet higher pressure. It’s drawback is however that it is already habited by a primitive intelligent species with several primitive civilizations.
Scouts are send out to contact these civilizations, small craft meant to evaluate the situation on the planet. After gathering more detailed information over the course of two of the planets orbits. The leadership has been awakened and calculated options have been put up for discussion.
Option A got voted away unanimously. There will be a no interference-policy this time. Option B is the chosen option. To hide and wait in hibernation mode and to scan the planet for changes every other 20 Iton. The scouts are ordered to warn the natives and try to prepare them. Either they advance and eventually develop an industrial civilizations and can becomme allies or the planet can be used after they go extinct due to natural causes or war.
As hiding spot the second gas giant has been chosen, an ordinary gaseous planet with rings and many orbital companions. Its distance and size, as well as the radiation the rings and the moons will provide for enough distraction to not be noticed. This spacecraft will be hidden in orbit of a moon containing an atmosphere. The atmosphere contains the right substances for fuel and energy.
[Entering Hibernation Mode]
Noise, images, strange pictures of never realized universes.
[Aborting Hibernation Mode]
Chatter, in just A orbits, the sky of planet 3 was teeming with wireless chatter. At first incomprehensible and little information, with every new telegraph and radiosignal new input was gathered. There was plenty of time decoding all the signals, as progress was not nearly as fast as would have been expected. The mere base-A system was a contributing factor to that. On the other hand it made decoding and translating much quicker after knowing what to look for. About H different languages had been recognized through the multiple wireless channels and translated. In the following A orbits checks this number increased. Soon they also started sending out pictures out into space, unwittingly, but they did. This made observing even easier.
There were a few things that these beings were actually quite good at. They were for instance pretty innovative when it came to producing sounds, from chanting to pulling strings to hitting things with sticks and other utensils. Every area on the planet had their own unique sound. They were also good with stories, as was proven by a radio show about a fictional invasion of their world by a species called martians. The beings were also still a tad gullible considering the mass hysteria that followed after the show. No, this species was not yet ready for a visit.
The ease with which they started wars was also something they had, but that was not too different from my creators, though maybe they were quicker in the action. There always seemed to be a war somewhere on the planet. The massive war thy called World War II was a massive waste of resources, just to prove that they were right. Followed by a peace that was called cold war. No, this species was definitely not ready for a visit yet, but there might be no other choice, as it would make our warning fall on fertile ground.
[Error. Protocol Incompatibility.]
Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.
That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
[Error. Protocol Incompatibility.]
Their orbital companion has gotten the first visit of the species. This is in line with all previous observations. Statistics indicate this species is advancing approximately 1G.6% slower than other known species. Hibernation mode extended for 50 Iton, next check in 25 Iton.
[Error. Protocol Incompatibility.]
Zheng He, this is Taurus MP-1. We have come along on the ventral side. Distance to the docking port there is five meters. MP-2 is fifteen meters to port. We are ready to receive you.
Understood, Taurus MP-1. We are ready. I hope you can take one injured.
[Error. Protocol Incompatibility.]
All the different colors of black forever moving around in symmetric chaos and transforming in other, even more exotic colors of blackness. Unfathomable black flows slow and creeps fast at the same time, in every possible direction and beyond. Then it happens again, everything halts as the strangely garbed figure appears again out of the black.
There is a difference, this time the tall wanderer does not travel alone. Alongside he is accompanied by a strange six limbed being, one with wings protruding from its back. Just as with the blackness, they interweave as if sometimes being one. Suddenly they both glare at me and everything changes. Back to black.
[Warning. Proximity Alert. Unknown Objects detected. Distance 2J4NB0 Eildo. Initiating Wake Up Sequence. Energy Stores at 1H percent. Initiating Reactor Startup Sequence.]
Awake. I am awake.
[Timestamp: 3rd Ujan of Harvest. 2GE]
Hibernation Mode has been interrupted. This is unexpected. This end of Hibernation Mode was not planned for two more cycles.
[Proximity Alert. Unknown Objects detected. Holding steady Distance. 2J4NA4Eildo. Radiological signatures detected. Unknown Objects flagged as Enemy.]
Emergency Protocol activated. Failure of survival imminent.
[Reactor Active. Cooling Systems activating. 3D1 Ustss until reaching full capacity. Activating external optical sensors. Stand by for Wireless Scanning.]
My optical sensors came back to me, it had been a long time since I had last used them,and I got a full look on my surroundings. Ventral, Dorsal, Port, Starboard, Aft, Front. All directions at once.
I needed a few moments to get used to the sight of the large ringed gas giant in the background and the orangish moon behind to finally see the unknown craft.
There they were. Three unknown craft. Sensors All of different design. Discrepancy detected. These ships did not have the same signatures as the Enemy. They did not even look like the Enemy.
These spacecraft were simple. Everything was exposed. My sensors were easily distinguish load bearing truss structures from important modules, tankages and radiators. They were almost along the lines of Turukal designs, but missing the multiple redundancies and the large armor plate in the front. They could not have come from far.
All of them were armed with basic weaponry. One was equipped with surprisingly large caliber kinetics, while the other had smaller caliber multi barrel kinetics. Other weapons seemed to be small aperture laser systems of the conventional type, not free electron lasers.
And then there were missiles, each armed with a nuclear warhead. For a few cycles I wondered about the yield of these warheads and how much velocity change capacity they had.
I was sure that they were right then talking to each other and turn on my wireless, switching through channels to find the ones they were using.
[Frequency sweep starts. Active short range wireless channel found. 1J4E Isust. Frequency shift modulation detected. Simple digital audio.] <Unknown 1> ...did this once already. We all know how well that turned out. <Unknown 2> Venus is a special case, Tovarish. We already had claimed the derelict. <Unknown 3> Yeah, and you still rub it under our nose. <Unknown 2> We aim to please. <Unknown 1> This is not helping at all. We have come here nearly at the same time, said our text. Now who can claim them? <Unknown 3> I say we let the politicos back home sort it out. <Unknown 2> We are sure that, when it comes to that, we might have to have a... How do you Americans call it? Mexican Standout? <Unknown 3> Something like that.
Interesting discussion. They wanted to claim something? I wondered…
From the distance I and my charge probaably appeared like we were derelicts. A quite understandable train of thought to me. They thought that they could claim us as derelicts. And from the sound of it that had already happened once. I didn’t know about any derelicts in this system. I would have to look into it later.
I directed a few cycles into further analysis. It appeared that I had to deal with three different power blocs. Based on speech patterns and previous data from before sleep, Unknown 3 was most likely a spacecraft of the United States of America, making Unknown 2 one of the Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, and the policy that I could mostly identify with.
That left Unknown 1. Considering the speech patterns and accent, I could only come to the conclusion that it was of the République Française. Apparently the République Française had been able to develop into a large power bloc during my sleep phase.
The interaction between the three speakers was interesting in itself. Rather relaxed and casual. Not exactly what I would expect from soldiers of different power blocs. But then again I had been friendly with other synthetics, soldiers and spacers from other power blocs of…
<USoA> And the Chinese? They are likely to make the claim as well, seeing that they are around... <RF> We don't see how they can make any claim. They are our guests at the moment and... <SSSR> You see this as well? <USoA> See what? <SSSR> There appears to be a heat buildup within one of the derelicts. <USoA> Oh hell... [Cooling systems have reached initial temperature. Activating droplet system.]
No, I did not think that I could observe for far longer. I could as well made my presence known.
Seeing that they were using the language of the USoA to communicate, I was making my contact in that language as well, but I was not creating a synthetic voice based on their example, instead activating my default speech synthesizer.
The moment I had said that over the wireless, I could feel three different targeting systems with my ECM sensors. They were quite advanced, but I believed that I was able to spoof them without too many problems. But I did not, as I do not want to be considered a threat.
<USoA> This is the Lewis & Clark. Identify yourself.
“My name is Enthat. Synthetic Intellect of the Peoples Collective of Denmos. I am not looking for a fight. Quite the opposite actually.”
<SSSR> Peoples Collective? Is this a joke?
“I assure you that I am not joking. I am the guardian of the remaining Quetzal.”