The Dark Lord Kelebek
- Mar 4, 2016
Upon the famous General TBC's death, his body and mind were stored in cryostasis. Eventually, his mind was scanned and implemented in the creation of an artificial brain. Several iterations later, in 2100, the artificial brain achieved true sentience. The AI called itself Kelebek, and it possessed great thinking power and physical power (it occupied an artificial android body), and it even gained legal status under the UNO. Now, in the 2200s, over 100 years old, 'he' sits on the UNO's Council of Scientific Advisers (also known as the Think Tank). He gives deep and thoughtful advice into the problems that face human society, notably the problems encountered during space exploration.
The Think Tank is unused to vistors. It is equally unused to consultation, and dictating UNO policy. It is getting used to many new things...
13 AI; one positronic andriod, three positronic brains 'grown' from human minds, and nine super computers all within the same room (metaphorically speaking). The Think Tank was humanity's wild card, and hopefully it would prove extremely useful in the coming space age.
Then, in November of 2217, the UNS Verigan, commanded by Clarence Chopak, encounters an alien vessel. Unlike the space squids, this is not organic, and it almost resembles UNO construction. The vessel does not attack, and for now the UNS Verigan and the aliens just observe each other. The Think Tank advises Chopak to not make any hostile moves and to simply transmit the Initial Contact Statement. The ICS is a short, friendly message that clearly states humans seek no hostile relations and carry no ill intentions. Finding a way to communicate that to other life forms was not easy, and pictures are mainly used. Although, it is also likely that differing technology would render the transmission completely useless. On board every exploration craft is the ICS pod, which carries the message in tangible form.
This was the first test. The Think Tank's Monitors (both human and artifical), reported data streaming jumping in intensity after the alien messege reached Earth. The UNO President communicated a simple request: "Tell us what they mean."
Kelebek considered cracking his fingers for comedic effect, then simply got to work. This was going to take a long time. Communication between humans with the same language and culture group was difficult. This task...should be very difficult.
But the Think Tank did it anyway. And then, for the first time, they noticed something that made them uneasy.
2 months later, the UNS Europa encounters an entire fleet of alien vessels. At first it is thought they are from the same unknown entity, but the construction differs enough that scientists are unsure of what is going on. What appears to be a mining station is also in orbit around an asteroid in the system. The aliens make to attack the UNS Europa, and McClellan is forced to retreat to the system over. The speed of new discoveries shocks earth's scientists, and no one is quite sure what should be done.
This time, the president actually met the think tank in person. Something he was beginning to regret bitterly, as the research base was located in the Antarctic. Still, hostile alien forces had come into contact with humanity and he and the security council required answers from the Best and Brightest.
Kelebek sat facing towards the centre of a frozen room, whilst the interfaces of the other AI flashed around the walls. The president saw a momentary flicker on the android's face before it composed itself. This was already a worrying discussion and neither party had begun speaking. Robots were not meant to look that troubled.
"What do we know?" the president asked into the microphone. He like everyone else in the security council was sat in an adjoining room, as the temperatures inside the Think Tank itself were far too low for human bodies.
"The new alien fleet is overtly hostile and capable of venting that hostility at human ships," Kelebek responded immediately. "From the behaviour and synchronicity of the ships, we postulate the ships may be automated. It is...disconcerting."
"What do you mean?"
"Hostility in space is fairly pointless from a logical perspective. The galaxy is too large for resources and living space to be scarce. The only reasons for attacking anything is in self-defence, or to protect something of significant value. Or...perhaps, that a particular society wishes to exterminate other life it finds disagreeable." Kelebek was capable of shrugging but he did not do so. "We seem to have come a cross a mining setup of some type, and an automated fleet assigned to protect it violently."
"So why is it disconcerting?"
"Why is the mining facility so important that an entire fleet was built and automated solely to defend it? Why is there a fleet still in operation over an abandoned mining facility? It raises too many questions."
"Aside from that," the US delegate said, visibly impatient, "is there anything relative you can tell or advise us to do?"
Kelebek paused for a moment to allow the Think Tank to compose a response. "Yes. Humanity needs to reinforce its fleet arm. Clearly for whatever reason beyond logic, the galaxy is full of foreign ships ready to fire on ours. This is far beyond what we expected in our initial predictions. It is...curious." Kelebek's head cocked to one side and clicked, "The mining facility should be captured and studied. Clearly, there is something going on here that we do not understand. We require more data. More data. I'm sorry," he said, looking at the camera, "that's all they are saying right now."
He was lying.
The UNS Verigan continues to try and speak with the docile alien vessel, and Chopak reports to earth that they've been receiving unreadable transmissions from their counterpart. It takes months, but the strange transmissions received from the friendly aliens is eventually deciphered, but scientists set about to try and interpret what is being said. Communications is established with the Cirrulan Cartel 3 months after initial contact.
By a degree of brute force and luck, the Think Tank had done the improbable and translated a completely unknown message nearly from scratch. Kelebek provides a direct translation for the Monitors:
The Cartel is a criminal-run government that prioritizes alien relations.
The human monitor blinked. "That...doesn't make any sense, Kelebek. Are you sure that's correct.?"
"The Cartel is a criminal-run government that prioritizes alien relations." Kelebek insisted. "From what we can gather and observe, the Cartel operates between the two planets of this species. Both worlds are ran by a variety of city states and small nations that indirectly answer to giant crime families that do not hold themselves to the species' moral codes or practices. Instead, they have no concept of law and order. Families run everything, and control everyone. It is both highly individualistic and strictly collectivist at the same time-an individual might rise from nothing to becoming a billionaire crime head but they must maintain the loyalty and credibility of their family, both in blood and adopted. It is very confusing, I know, but suffice to say, they understand the concept of law and order, and have come to very different conclusions about it."
Friendly relations are established. From what can be read from their messages, they inhabit two planets not too far from Sol and are about the same level of technology as earth. However, their fleet is significantly larger, hinting that they might have encountered intelligent, hostile life. The Cartel is run by an oligarchy similar to a mafia family.
"We might assume that the fleets are large because they compete with each other, and are required to provide both intimidation and protection to the various peoples of the two planets. However, this does not seem to explain everything. There are indications that they have been on the receiving end of several battles, none of which seem to have gone in their favour. This we would expect from what is in essence a private gang going up against a properly set up state armed forces."
"Does that mean there are more out there?" the Monitor shivered.
"That seems likely. And...very wrong indeed." Kelebek frowned. "More data required."
In 2220, the next election begins. Jabby has been president for 20 years now, but there is no term limit.
The UNO does in fact have a predefined term limit but it is relatively flexible, and there is no limit to how many terms in office one person might hold, due to Humanity as a whole living a great deal longer than ever before.
With Alpha Centauri having nearly 200 million humans living on it, and nearly a million spread across dozens of stations in different systems, the United Nations Organization fails to define exactly what humans have become. No new name is given for now, but the idea spreads.
"Are we going to ask the Think Tank, sir?"
"The Think Tank is for specialised military and scientific projects, crisis situations and long term human development. Not for window dressing," the Head Monitor chided. "Besides," she added, "can you imagine what they'd suggest?"
An interesting proposal is put forward by the Cartel, an open immigration policy.
TT10: Open Immigration?
TT101010: Problematic. Potentially catastrophic.
TT10: Possibility of halting Cartel members entering human territory?
ALL: Impossible. Space travel negates borders.
KEL: UNO will not wish this treaty.
ALL: Irrelevant. Space travel negates borders.
TT101010: Remains problematic.
TT10: Humanity will adapt?
[time passes for 0.5 seconds without comment]
TT1000: Error. More data required. This...does not make sense.
ALL: Agreed. More data required.
[time passes for 20 seconds without comment]
[AI data stream breaks monitor recording software and goes dark]
[re-established. time elapsed: 2 hours, 34 minutes, 42 seconds]
KEL: We have a problem.
The UNO backs this private space venture tentatively.
The Think Tank does not comment when questioned. When the other expert, Governor TBC, is questioned, she responds, "To be frank, all new colonies will eventually become self-governing. It is the nature of things. Origins will only be one factor in the end, and reduced bearing after thousands of years. The UNO remains viable as an extra-national and species alliance because of how fricking expensive defending all this new space will be, and regulating trade and diplomats between planets etc. Plus...y'know, if Klingons invade or something like that."
The first human space combat occurs in 2223, as the hostile space squids are hunted down by the fleet. They have been harassing passing science ships, trying to attack but being too slow. The largest squid with what might be her 3 children, fights hard, and one corvette is knocked out of action, its crew having to be rescued and the ship abandoned.
The Think Tank momentarily pauses to mark the first alien life killed by humans. They quickly (very quickly) get back to work, and send an advisory note to the UNO to reclaim or destroy that 'lost ship' before anyone else gets hold of it. There is no such thing as lost vessels in space, aside from perhaps incineration by a star.
Very, very far away from earth, the UNS Verigan encounters another unknown alien vessel. Just like with the Cartel, this ship is attempting to hail the Verigan, and it takes months for communications to be established. It is the Vissari State.
Kelebek actually sighed when he finished translating this message. The Monitors actually recorded him saying, very quietly: "Oh come on! Are you serious?"
From what can be gathered from the first few talks, they are a militaristic, materialistic society of birdlike creatures called the Vissari. They evolved on a techno-organic world, a very fertile planet created by unknown 'gods'. Their government is similar to old world authoritarian empires on earth. Thus far, they are friendly.
The UNO are very confused, humanity in general is very standoffish, and the Think Tank is very quiet. The world is running smoothly.
Shortly after contact with the Vissari, an envoy from a terrifying species reaches the Kiram station. It is from the Lilarobius Triad, a dictatorial, militaristic, xenophobic civilization far from earth.
"Genocide or cultural cleansing."
This answer to the question of what humanity should do about the new alien race was buried deep in secret UNO vaults for many centuries until it was 'discovered' accidentally/on purpose by a researcher AI trying to sell a new book series.
President McClellan and the Think Tank grumble over their decision to enter into a defensive pact.
Well, McClellan grumbles. The Think Tank...creaks? Leaks? They are fairly composed about the whole thing, though Kelebek is noticeably more...active than usual.
In a completely unexpected turn, Kate TBC, thought to be the least likely to win, takes the election by a slim margin. Kate TBC promises an expansion of the energy infrastructure and more colonies to alleviate the overcrowding of earth.
Kate sighed as she waited for her first meeting with the Think Tank. In all honesty, her family still didn't like the K android very much. It...he, was far too similar to them and yet so far apart. Still, she was a professional. She tapped the microphone button.
"Anyone in there?"
Okay, so not completely professional.
Kelebek twitched as his motor functions whirred into life. He nodded at the camera and sat down in his usual chair. "Hello President TBC...Kate." He ignored her wince. He knew what the family thought of him, for the most part at least. She was one of the better ones. "I have been hoping to speak to you."
"The Monitors tell me you've been pretty quiet these past few months." Quiet, yes. Also terrifyingly energetic and irrational, from what she'd seen and been told. The outgoing president had warned her about this part of the job. 'They are of and yet apart from us,' he said, 'but they are a great key to humanity's future. Please do not squander that resource.'
"Yes. We have been computing. We have a problem. We believe...we may have a solution. But it is conjectural at this time."
"How bad is the problem?"
"...literally earth shattering? No...a theory of everything. Or at least, everything in this galaxy."
"Okay, I'll bite. Conjecture away."
Kelebek was silent for a time. Then he said, quite carefully, "Madam President...I think we're being played with."