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ישן 20-05-2014, 18:45
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חבר מתאריך: 03.03.10
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The Graveworld - סיפור קצר

סיפור קצר שכתבתי ב2013....

Ladies and gentlemen of the esteemed academic committee. I am here to relay to you the interim report from our exploration mission to the alien planet in sector 234.61, a planet we refer to as the Graveworld. Though I am sure you are familiar with the details of the original discovery, six years ago, I feel it will be in good order to repeat, briefly, the origin of our exploration mission. We have first learned of the possible existence of advanced life forms in Sector 234.61 when a probe ship discovered an artificial object – a spaceship – entering the vicinity of Starbase 866 in sector 234.59 at slow sublight speed. Our research dated the hull's age to be roughly six hundred years old, standard Federal time. The vehicle was small and contained no life forms. It did contain a single vellum of visual information. The visual information allowed us to discern several things. The builders of the alien vessel were able to clearly define the hydrogen atom, the most common atom in the universe, and place its symbol on their ship to facilitate a mutual base of scientific understanding. As well, we located what appeared to be diagrams of the alien race's external physiology – one significantly alien to us – and a scaling ratio using the very ship as a scale to indicate the aliens' size. The greatest discovery though, was a crude but legible Starmap that could guide us to back to their homeworld. We were naturally excited about the discovery of another sentient, spacefaring race.

Unfortunately, as you well know, our excitement turned to ash in our mouths when the first exploration cruiser arrived in their star system. Their planet was a gray, dead hulk, stricken by significant amounts of radiation. Although we had hoped that it was simply a navigation error that led us to the wrong planet, surface scans quickly revealed the truth. It was indeed that alien race's world. Remains of their civilization – great cities of metal, concrete and asphalt – still dominated the planet's surface. Surface exploration brought back definite proof in the form of written language identical to the written language found on parts of their vessel.

As you would remember from the preliminary reports, it quickly became clear that the aliens have brought their own doom upon them. Some time after launching their exploration vehicle, the aliens launched a massive war of destruction, using crude but powerful nuclear and thermonuclear weapons to sterilize their planet. From records we were able to locate, we infer that these aliens followed a path not unlike our own, developing civilization and launching into self-destructive wars for tracts of land, resources and in-race differences. Much like our own history, they've gradually enhanced their methods of killing until eventually, like us, they've harnessed atomic fission into extremely powerful weapons of war. I submit to you that much of this is inferred from visual depictions left behind by the alien race – printed photographs, illustrations, works of art. It is unfortunate that we were unable to decode their strange languages. However, we are quite confident of these conclusions as we have found no visual depictions to contradict them.

The big question, of course, was why did they do it? These aliens were advanced enough to develop nuclear fission and space travel. Exploration of their star system discovered indications of initial colonization of another planet and several bases on planetary satellites throughout the system. They must have been intelligent enough to know that a nuclear war would spell doom to their race. That should have been a deterrent to them just as it was to us during the dark days that preceded our expansion into space. What happened then?
I must caution that the theory I will now submit is just that – a theory. We have circumstantial evidence to support it but not enough to corroborate it. Our first breakthrough was brought about by an unfortunate incident. In order to facilitate communications between research groups located in different parts of the Graveworld, we've deployed two relay satellites in orbit. This is of course essential as direct wave communication is limited by the curvature of a planetary body. Within one standard day, we've lost both satellites. An ancient alien defense vehicle, hovering in apparent inactivity in orbit, was activated by something in the communication satellites and proceeded to attack them with rocket-propelled explosives. Further scan of the planetary orbit discovered several more of these automated vehicles orbiting within the planet's orbital debris ring, their systems being powered by solar radiation, much like our own first generation satellites.
And that brought about the observation that the planet has very few satellites in orbit. Like our own planet during the earlier era of space exploration, the aliens have littered the orbit of their planet with a ring of orbital debris – a space junk ring. By nature, most of these pieces tend to be small – tools, broken satellite parts and the likes. However, many satellites remain mostly in tact in orbit, able to maintain their orbit for centuries. The aliens had just as much small debris – we've found anything from solar panels to banners and discarded bottles of drinks. However, we've located only three satellites that were still in tact and not a single one was operable. This was puzzling, to say the least. Research groups in different parts of the planet found enough indications of planet-wide communication networks. In one place, an antennae installation survived the nuclear war and time mostly in tact – though inoperable as well. Those antennae faced the sky, undoubtedly communicating with satellites in asynchronous orbit. Where did the satellites go? That was the puzzle. Certainly, over the centuries that passed, many would've burnt in the atmosphere as their orbit deteriorated. However, some should have survived, just as the unmanned defense vehicles survived.
The answer came from understanding what guided the automated defense vehicles. Certainly, without their builders to guide them, these vessels required some form of advanced automation to control their function. It seemed illogical that merely our broadband communication was the trigger – after all, our cruiser was emitting the same signals since we have arrived and yet did not attract the defense vessels' attention. It was only after another week of study that a shuttle which was taking close-range spectral readings on the vessels accidentally triggered the vehicle. The pilot was able to maneuver and evade two rocket-powered projectiles then returned the shuttle to the cruiser before more shots would be fired. However, by that time, the defense vehicle has once again gone into inactivity. We deduced that the defense vessels may have been designed to target satellites specifically and were limited in their targeting algorithms to target only relatively motionless targets at mostly their same orbit that emitted communication signals. If one of these factors – communication, orbit, slow relative speed – was missing, the automated vessels ignored our vehicles completely. We've tested the theory extensively and found it to be accurate. Our shuttles were safe when moving at high speeds, when their orbit was significantly higher or lower than the defense vessels and when they did not emit communication signals. We engaged three different defense vessels with baits that exhibited all three factors. In all three cases, the ancient vehicles came to life, attacked the baits and then returned to dormancy. These vehicles were not defense vessels at all but rather attack vessels, designed to deprive the world of all satellite-based communications.
I see the puzzlement in your eyes, one we shared when we discovered the purpose of these vessels. Why would the aliens destroy all global communications and how did it tie in with the nuclear war? Certainly knocking the enemy's communications out makes for a particularly effective tactical move but knocking out all communications seems to cripple all sides equally. What would the purpose be then?

Well, we believe we finally have the answer. Our research teams in different parts of the alien world concluded that the aliens had many nation-states, just as we had, before the Unification at the start of Hyperspace Age. The technological and industrial development in these nations varied extensively, to the point that some nations were still bereft of basic sanitation and agriculture while others were sending manned missions to other planets. Perhaps the chief amongst these nations was the nation we refer to as the Roboteers. I know this name may offend some, but as we don't know what the aliens called their nation, we are left with little to describe their nations other than by their most distinguishing traits. The Roboteers had an extremely advanced nation by that world's standards. Comparison of circuitry and written language suggests that the Roboteers were most likely the ones to construct and launch the spaceship that led us to their planet in the first place. Theirs was an advanced nation, with great industrial complexes and mega-cities that must have housed millions. These aliens reached the point where their technological prowess allowed them to design unmanned robots to do many tasks for them, to explore space, perform tasks requiring fine precision and microscopic accuracy, and finally, to do their fighting. This was the point where the nation of the Roboteers apparently brought its own demise. The set of pictures included in appendix 2a was found in what appeared to be a museum. We believe it depicts the major steps in this nation's evolution of military technology. They seemed to put a significant importance in armored combat vehicles and air power. As you can see, they began with crude vehicles, inefficient propulsion and limited weaponry but quickly evolved into faster, lighter, more advanced vehicles and planes. We believe they based much of their aircraft propulsion on a turbine based air-fuel compression and combustion. The major change came with the introduction of the unmanned air vehicle we see in picture number seven. Our team refers to it as the Three-Tailed Hunter, because of its distinctive tail configuration. Based on the limited size of the armament – we believe those things hanging under its wings are low yield explosive missiles – we think it was more a hunter than a battlefield combatant, used to hunt low-technology adversaries which were incapable of retaliatory strikes against it. The following pictures depict more advanced combat robots – we've found evidence that thousands of units of the armored ground vehicle in picture eleven were deployed in some battlefields. The Roboteers have reached an amazing technological success – they could deploy thousands of units to the battlefield without risking a single life. We infer that they, like us, had a high value of their own lives and were eager to protect themselves from death. Our breakthrough came when we located an underground shelter of massive proportions, built into a mountain. In it, we found a storage facility for such robots. Time has not been kind to the circuitry and the metal but many were still in good enough a condition for us to identify that they were probably battle-ready when their masters went down in the nuclear conflagration. At first we thought it meant that no major conventional war preceded the nuclear one, even though that seemed unlikely. After all, who would possibly doom their entire race without having first exhausted all other options?
The further we advanced in our research, the more we began to see the signs of the conventional war that were all but buried under the greater devastation caused by the nuclear bombs. We've established that several other nations engaged the Roboteers in battle and in fact invaded the Roboteers' national borders. What we've realized at that point was a fantastic breakthrough. The invaders, low-tech nations that banded together, armed with backwards vehicles and aircraft, were about to defeat the Roboteers, despite their technological edge. The massive robotic armies could not defeat those invaders and in fact were never even deployed to fight them. Finally, the pieces fell into place. These nations, with their manned armies, were the ones behind the attack on the communications satellites. They must have known that the robot armies could not be defeated on the field. So they struck at the Roboteers' only weakness – the robots needed to be in constant communication with their controllers. The attack on the satellites must have been planned and prepared for over a long time – years, probably. Undoubtedly, the primitive nations deployed their automated assault vehicles in the guise of satellites over several years, then activated them all at the same time, causing a systematic failure of global communications that disabled the entire robot army without a single casualty to the primitives. Then they invaded, sailing right past motionless robotic ships and landing their crewed vehicles on the Roboteers' shores. It seemed, from what we could find, that the Roboteers tried to mount a defensive using personal weapons but their soldiers were untrained, having not had to actually use personnel on the battlefield in many years. The primitives had trained soldiers and usable combat vehicles and their advantage was therefore decisive.
Ladies and gentlemen of the esteemed academic committee. The conclusion is rather obvious. In the face of defeat, the Roboteers chose to burn rather than be conquered. They've launched their nuclear weapons, many of which could not be precisely targeted without satellites, and doomed their world, their aggressors and themselves to death.
It is difficult to offer a good reason why all this happened. It appears, from what looked like political propaganda pictures found in many countries, that the Roboteers were hated by many, perhaps because of their technological supremacy.
To conclude, our interim report suggests that the aliens of the Graveworld destroyed themselves because the most advanced nation-state put too much credence in their robot weaponry. Their remote-controlled war machines were made useless by the loss of all communication satellites in a coordinated attack by their enemies. Bereft of conventional weapons to defend themselves with, the nation of the Roboteers chose to burn their entire race rather than concede defeat.
The committee can rest assured that the chain of events that brought about the self-destruction of these aliens can not happen to us. Obviously we are beyond the internal warring phase of our civilization. Furthermore, even with our advances in automation, communication and artificial intelligence, we have never invested any important or vital task into a robotic or remote controlled unit. We've never forgotten the importance of having a pilot behind the controls, even if only for cases of emergencies. Were we to be left without all our communication, we would lack centralized command, but military units would still be in full combat readiness and be able to defend our interests with conventional means. Unless something drastic would change by the time our researchers are prepared to finalize a summary report, the only thing we have to learn from this is that we should never take the pilot out from behind the helms.


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