Friday, March 27, 2015

Report from Monitor Vessel 7J642B

On the command deck of Monitor Vessel 7J642B, Leader Ikslordl regards his staff. He is a tall alien, with a thin body, an oversized head, and a small, narrow face.

Leader Ikslordl: "Concealment Officer?"

On the floor below Leader Ikslordl stands a group of aliens, similar in basic structure to their leaders, but with small differences in build and skins that are lighter, in a mix of grays and greens. One of them steps forward, in accordance with the ancient Forms of Deference.

Concealment Officer Blaxilpik: "Our cloaks are steady, the subspace bleed is absorbing our energy emissions, and the humans have not reacted to our presence. Seclusion measures successful, Leader Ikslordl."

Leader Ikslordl: "Excellent. Then we are ready for our assessment. Xenosociologist Belkwinith, begin."

A third alien steps forward, taking his place beside Concealment Office Blaxilpik. If he feels that this crude physical display of positioning is antiquated and unnecessary, he gives no sign of it.

Xenosociologist Belkwinith: "In the time since our last inspection, the human tribes appear to have settled their differences become unified under a single planetary government. While some disputes are still resolved in battle, their wars are now fought in simulation spaces. The actions are highly volatile and extremely violent -- qualities which appear to be deeply embedded in this species -- but the humans no longer die in them. In fact, by channeling their aggressive instincts into these virtual wars, they appear to able to satisfy their instinctive need for the experience of battle while expending only a tiny fraction of the resources that an actual war would consume."

Leader Ikslordl: "I see. Have they any actual bloodshed?"

Xenosociologist Belkwinith: "Physical combat still exists for them, but it is highly ritualized as a collection of sports. These sports appear to provide an outlet for those specimens who cannot be satisfied with the experience of virtual combat."

Leader Ikslordl: "And to what do you attribute this sudden change of racial character? As I recall, on our last inspection the humans existed in a perpetual state of war, with a seventy-two percent chance of exterminating themselves."

Xenosociologist Belkwinith: "I have not correlated my conclusions with Xenotechnology Assessment, but I believe this came about largely because of rapid advances in their technology, and was made necessary by their ever-expanding population. It does not represent a change in their racial character, but rather a society-wide accommodation to it, with the clear -- and constantly reinforced -- understanding that the alternative is death on a species-wide level."

Leader Ikslordl: "Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop, do you concur?"

A third alien steps forward to face the Leader.

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "Yes, Leader Ikslordl. At least, I see nothing in our data to contraindicate such a conclusion."

Leader Ikslordl: "And how rapidly has their technology advanced?"

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "Extremely, Leader Ikslordl. Despite some anomalies, they are now broadly a Class Six technological society."

Leader Ikslordl: "Class Six? Class Six is a potential threat to the League. Exterminator Zabdjanos, ready your--"

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop raises a slender, three-fingered hand.

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "A moment, Leader Ikslordl. The classification is skewed by two factors, and while I stand by our assessment, I believe that the metric we apply may not be appropriate here."

Leader Ikslordl: "...Very well. Stand down, Exterminator Zabdjanos. Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop, continue. What are these two factors?"

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "The first is the rapid growth of their technology. While this is not entirely unprecedented -- the Stars Of The Thousand-Year Rule exhibited such rapid development, and may even have departed the league because of it -- in this case it seems to be less of a racial characteristic, and more matter of specific circumstances. Some fifteen of their years (or sixty decitels) after our last inspection, a new social movement arose in a place they refer to as Northexas. It appears to have begun with a local government that happened to combine a good relationship with its citizens and a deep devotion to developing and using the newest and most efficient technologies. At the same time, the lack of available resources -- imposed by the same unchecked population growth that Xenosociologist Belkwinith noted earlier -- forced them to 'do more and more with less and less'. The model of efficiency through technology put forth by this government was emulated, and in some cases adopted outright, by surrounding governments. As more of their resources were devoted to resolving problems with technology, they also began exploring those factors which were depriving them of resources in the first place: overwhelming population growth, and needless, endless wars."

Xenosociologist Belkwinith: "So it was a pattern that emerged at precisely the right time, enabling them to survive against all expectations."

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "That is what our research indicates. My team took considerable time to study their history, because of... well, because of the anomalies in their current technology."

Leader Ikslordl: "Describe these anomalies."

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "Earth is, as I said, a Class Six technological society. They have all the signifiers: liquid crystal data matrices, full neural data interfaces for their technology, orbital solar farms for energy, and the beginning stages of faster-than-light travel using the n-dimensional simultaneity of the Weft. However, there are also... relics."

Leader Ikslordl: "Relics?"

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "When we last passed through the system, there was a data server that remained in operation despite the obvious lack of any further use for it. The data contained on it was obsolete, and had already been copied in an unstructured format onto a newer system. The humans expected to shut it down in less than a decitel."

Leader Ikslordl: "I fail to see how this is relevant."

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "Leader... It's still there. That data server, built on silicon chips powered by electricity carried through copper wires, still exists. It is still in service."

Leader Ikslordl: "Still in service? What does it do?"

Xenotechnology Assessor Dibbelflop: "Nothing, Leader Ikslordl. Apparently it was used by a small branch of the Northexas government, one responsible for providing entertainment to the population. As the influence of Northexas expanded, so did its entertainment branch. At present, they rely on Stage Six technology for all of their operations, and host something like seventy percent of the planet's virtual interactions. However, they still devote a significant fraction of their resources to maintaining that server -- which hasn't actually been accessed in over a thousand decitels -- 'in case someone needs that information'."

Leader Ikslordl: "Ah. I see. Exterminator Zabdjanos, you may discontinue your preparations. The humans are no threat to us. The League endures."

Command Staff: "The League Endures."


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