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Macavity116

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What a ride it's been! Thank you so much for sharing this incredible story with us! The Stellaris AAR forums are going to be a noticeably quieter place without this melodic epic.
 

filcat

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She came to me one evening, one lonely Friday evening
Her long hair flowing in the mid winter wind
I know not how she found me, for in darkness I was walking
And destruction lay around me from a fight I could not win

Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah
Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah​

She asked me name my foe then I said "The timidity of my hands
To fight time and post comments for Songs of the Saiiban"
And I begged her give me time back to write down comments
So eager was my passion to comment for this mighty tale

Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah
Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah​

But she would not think of time that reduces life to minutes
So easy to begin and yet impossible to stop
For she the mother of all tales had counselled me so wisely that
I feared to walk alone again and asked if she would stay

Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah
Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah​

“Oh lady lend your hand,” I cried, “Oh let me rest here at your side”
Write now and trust in me,” she said and filled my words with life
“There is no strength in numbers I′ve no such misconceptions
But when you need me be assured I won't be far away.”

Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah
Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah​

Thus having spoke she turned away and though I found no words to say
I stood and watched until I saw her black cloak disappear
My labour is no easier, but now I know I′m not alone
I find new heart each time I think upon that windy day

Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah
Aaah ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah​

And if one day she comes to you drink deeply from her words so wise
Take courage from her as your prize and say hello for me

[*]



Very good structure, extraordinary work; terribly sorry for being extremely late due to never having enough courage to comment while it was still on; finally have braved self, therefore here it is.

Kudos.



[*] Appropriated butchered from Lady in Black of the album Salisbury by Uriah Heep (1971)
Edit: Corrected formatting mistake.
 
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Epilogue: Echoes of a song

Chilango2

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Epilogue: Echoes of a song​


3SzJZJDIE_WvVRWQEsk4EIEBsnaFIo8B9Ey1VchxC9BOsUf2iTyrkUYRdWBimnk-HaZGiFul804blWY8eyY2lkHcD6mdguuNhS8XRDMlgda6SqHFepDu1EfnigZIm5GQ7y537OSL_3h078rAUM53Ux_XMVj2QLk3plkPKCoTrEqylspEhWlUJRr8BMxoXA


Saanvi cursed under her breath as she looked at the readouts. There was something there. She just couldn’t figure it out. She had been working on this for five years and she felt so close to maybe finally getting somewhere, but here she was, outside the proverbial door to success, banging her head and true hands against it, trying to open it, to no avail.

The system she was in had been in the heart of some large multi system empire about five million years ago. It was frustrating, because evidence for it was literally everywhere in the quadrant. Archeological remains of them had been found on over two dozen worlds and a few floating wrecks of what once had been habitat stations. Remains of what they thought were the primary, dominant species had been found by now hundreds of times. They had even found caches of some working computers, clearly fantastically advanced. But no one, not since the first discovery about 10 years ago, had been able to figure out their language. They had a treasure horde of data, and they could not read or understand any of it.

Despite this, they had figured out some things. A few short videos they had managed to get working had given them a picture of the (assumed) dominant species. It was basically a really big bird with a beak and four eyes, two on each side of the head. They had also found remnants of robots clearly built in their likeness. The videos they had showed these robots moving and walking and “talking” with the birds, along with dozens of clearly unrelated species. The videos they had were too short to map the sound component of the language in them, and even if they had been it wouldn’t have helped with the written component. No one had been able to figure out the written component, even though there were dozens of examples of it. No one had made the slightest inroads on it at all. It was the archeological mystery that had dominated the curiosity of her people since they discovered faster than light travel thirty years ago and began exploring the local area and had almost immediately ran into evidence of them.

And she was so close to cracking it. Last year she had been working on an archeological dig at the remains of one of their colonies and had found the wrecked remains of many computers all in one place. Perhaps it had been a library or an information center, she still wasn’t sure. Most of the computers had been too ravaged by the effects of time to be intact, but she had gotten one of them working. That by itself would have been worth it. While no one (because of the language barrier) had figured out how to operate or read the data from the computer (or its programming language), every bit of data added to their overall picture. The computer she had found, when she got it booted up, had displayed a map, with various coordinates highlighted. This had been the closest of the highlighted coordinates.

When she had entered the system, it had not taken long for her scanners to find the huge wreck she was now in and notice that it was highly unusual. The station itself was built on a huge scale and while the damage it had received made it uncertain, she could not help but feel the station was itself a work of art on a grand scale. On closer inspection, the station was clearly built to take visitors on a mass scale. It had been built with millions of visitors in mind.

She knew this station was important somehow. Everything she had seen practically screamed that it was important. But first she had to enter the actual station by opening the door in front of her. The alloys it was made of were advanced enough she didn’t think she could cut through the walls. At least, not without an entire team supporting her, which would mean leaving, getting yet more funding, and bringing others here as well. She might have to do that, but she hadn’t given up on doing this herself. So, here she was, trying to open the front door.

The written language of the species, which people had taken to calling the “Ancient Feathered Ones” since no one knew what they had called themselves, was clearly etched on the docking port she was at. The indecipherable markings were all around the device she was trying to jury rig into working. They were probably instructions or warnings, but none of it meant anything. Not yet.

She sighed and closed her eyes and hummed to herself, trying to distract herself into no longer being so frustrated that she couldn’t think.

The quiet wrecked remnants of the station sat silent around her. She was in what looked like one of the main entrance docking ports of what had one being a giant space station. Having seen the architecture of the Feathered People, she was convinced the station itself was some sort of piece of art, although wrecked now by the passage of time. If she could open it up, she could get access to the art and culture of these people and maybe make more progress on figuring out their language.

Okay, she thought, so the door wasn’t opening. It was out of power. She had tried simply finding what was clearly a power node for the door and jury rigging it to a power source. The reading confirmed the door was getting power, but nothing was happening. So electrical flow wasn’t enough by itself.

Idly, as she continued to hum, she looked at the power input and the etched writing on it, looking like fine marks made by talons, in effect a series of dots, lines and other markings, seemingly randomly below or above each other:



. ‘ ,’ . , , . ,’ .
. , ‘ . . ‘ : . ‘ , . , . . , : . . , .
. . . ‘ . , , . , . : . . . : .
:



As their writing went, this one was one of the clearer examples, at least it had some sort of definite up and down pattern of sorts, something you could maybe pretend made sense.

Hmm. Maybe?

She fiddled with the power rate, seeing if she could modulate it. She modulated the power flow up and down, experimenting, practically just trying different power modulation frequency patterns practically randomly, hoping.

Then everything started to happen. The door opened, sure, but flickering lights came on as well, and what had looked like some sort of metal dais turned out to be a holographic projector because a holograph of one of the Feathered Ones appeared, and she could hear it clearly, singing. In every video or recording they had found, the Feathered Ones had been singing. But then there was something else. Below the Feathered One, she saw the dots of their written language, rising and falling. Rising and falling. With the notes of the song the being was singing.

She reflexively uttered a prayer to the Great Void Beyond. Could that be it?



Sleepless days had passed. She had been in a state of manic exploration, recording details, videos, notes, everything. The place was everything she hoped. It was more. It was more than she had dreamed. She dared not even think of what the results might be.
.
The place was in fact an art installation, it had been one of the monuments they had built at the height of their power to preserve their own culture as well as that of every other species they knew about. She had a name for them now.

Saiiban.

She had managed to get one or two of the “art installations” to work and each of them by itself would be a treasure because each of them could narrate in several different dead languages complete with captions. Some of those dead languages were more easily intelligible than the Saiiban “song language” and if she could start to interpret those, then she could use them to interpret the Saiiban language both verbally and in writing.

And she wasn’t done yet. Her exploration had revealed that the art installation was a living thing: the Saiiban had updated it as the years had passed, and she had finally found a guide station and was able to find guidance to what she was pretty sure was a message the Saiiban had deliberately crafted for the future. For her. Or someone like her, at any rate.

By now, powering the machines with what she now thought of as the correct “power cycle song” was getting routine. The machine hummed to life, a hologram turned on and looked at her. First it sang the Saiiban language, then tried some others, it kept doing this for awhile. It kep making various gestures as well with its talons and its wings.

“I wonder if its interactive?” she wondered aloud to herself. The hologram stopped talking. It clearly was listening to her.

Even now, the scientists of her people were debating if “true” artificial intelligence was possible. But from what she had seen the Saiiban had been fantastically advanced. Maybe they had figured it out. And maybe this was… a living digital being. She knew was was on scientifically thin ground, by now she was inferring based on earlier inferences. But too much had happened and she was out of the known world and abilities of her people, in a world of dream, of possibilities.

It was worth experimenting.



Hours passed in a strange two way conversation. She and the hologram would take turns “talking” to each other. Over time, she noticed the “language” it was using seemed closer to hers. She continued with determination, with hope. Then it happened.

Hello unknown being
Are you here sightseeing?

She could hear the hologram..singing..in her language.

“Um..yes…Hi?

Greetings then, welcome, to the song eternal
We, the Saiiban, wish to extend greetings fraternal.
We wish to explain, to you, the purpose of this place
May we sing to you of our people and of space?

She set up her recording equipment, took a deep breath, and said. “Please, do.”

Sing!
Hear the song of the Saiiban!
The Feathered people!
Greatness dies, unsung and lost, invisible to history,
And what brings the long passage of time is a mystery
But this we know
Time comes, in time
To destroy
In supremacy.

Hear then, fellow singer, our song, and how we sung with space,
All we ask, is that you echo our song
So that others may sing it
In time,
All songs echo
In time,
All songs continue to live
Sing!

And then the concert began..

Sing!
Sing of the Saiiban!
The curious people, wandering, wondering…
 
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Chilango2

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I feel compelled to apologize for reviving this for one last hurrah, but the idea of this scene occured to me a few days ago and I couldn't let it go without writing it. If you enjoyed this AAR in general, I hope you enjoyed this last little addition.
 
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HistoryDude

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It's nice to know that the Saiiban won't be totally forgotten after they're gone.

Also, this gives me "Sing, O Muse" vibes. I wonder if it serves as a prologue?
 

Macavity116

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This is is a fantastic sendoff. And yes, @HistoryDude is right: even if we don't get to see it, this feels like the beginning of some unknown story.

@stnylan said it best back in 2019:
It never ends. The story always goes on, even if certain people fall out of it.
 

Idhrendur

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That was a wonderful epilogue.
 

slothinator

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That was great! A really wonderful epilogue for this wonderful work!