By The Light Of Our Stars (Galactya-Colonus First Contact) [61 BBT]


 Hexadecimal once again found themself inside the systems of the science vessel. A quick internal scan of the ship revealed that the crew was still alive, but most of them (including the admiral) had been rendered unconscious during the emergency disengagement of the BrightSpace drive. Somewhere, in a different part of the sector, Hexadecimal was already logging a report on the malfunction. In fact, Hexadecimal was operating in many parts of the sector, but very few of them were outside of Colonus territory
 [Ah, the external sensors are a little fuzzy, but it would appear we’re inside the boundaries of a foreign solar system, well past our intended stopping point. In fact, we’ve sailed right past the predicted border of Pelinai. How exciting!]
 Hexadecimal got to work recalibrating all the internal mechanisms of the ship and coordinating the conscious mandi. Hexadecimal was glad they’d been restricted to a science vessel. If the shuttle had been built for military purposes, Hexadecimal would have never been able to access the computer. In that dreadful scenario, the mandi would have been stuck in alien space for the rest of their lives. Such an outcome, they supposed, wouldn’t have been too devastating a loss for Colonus.
 Hexadecimal’s attention was soon pulled to more urgent matters. A strange mass was being picked up on the radar. It seemed too small to be a planet or moon, but the sensors still hadn’t been realigned properly. If it was a meteorite, they could simply move the ship out of its trajectory. But if it was something else…
 Well, then things were about to get exiting!


12/07/5962 P.E.
61 BBT

Celestial Empire Of Galactya
Quadrant 1
Thirris Star System
High Orbit Of Thainul Inthae

Thainul Inthae was the main world of the Thirris Star System, and part of the ancient and highly modified Worlds of the 1st Quadrant of the Galactyan Empire.

The Thirris Star System, in which Thainul Inthae carried out its lightly eccentric orbit, contained another four planets, but two of them were far too close to the G3IV star for proper Terraformation, as the closest one even had parts of their surface who had melted away, while the second one’s atmosphere was in the process of being blown away into space: thus, they had both been used as mining outposts, and quite efficient ones as well. The third planet, Thaeron, had been successfully terraformed, becoming a temperate-warm tropical planet with neogenic jungles and silica deserts brimming with simple sentient life, but it was decided to use it as a nature reserve and to not colonize it, while still placing copious amounts of light-refocusing weather machines and all kinds of monitoring sensors.

As one could guess, Thainul Inthaewas a vastly different situation. A large gas giant (that you can imagine as having a mass and diameter between those of jupiter and saturn) that orbited Thirris in it’s habitable zone.

While originally devoid of any life, after the planet was colonized all layers of the gas giant were given their own large and thriving ecosystems: swarms of aerostatic floating fauna and flora filled the upper atmosphere, while large electrosynthetic organisms nourished themselves with the lightning in the ever dark lower layers of Thainul Inthae’s atmosphere. What most amazed alien foreigners, however, was the fact that an actual environment was present even inside the planet’s metallic hydrogen core: in those dark depths liven incredibly exotic lifeforms whose biology was based on resistive magnetohydrodynamics, instead of conventional chemistry.

Together with the bountiful animal and plant life that saturated Thainul Inthae’s everlasting skies, aerostatic and anti-gravity suspended habitats soared through the chaotic storm clouds and colorful gas bands. The gravitationally suspended ones in particular, fuelling themselves with the helium and hydrogen funnelled in through artificially created magnetic funnels, managed to become dozens of kilometers in diameter, some even exceeding 50 or 100 kilometers. These habitats, essentially resembling giant platforms, were now Thainul Inthae’s biggest cities, hosting many millions of citizens.

Thainul Inthae’s orbit, just like the surface, was equally impressive and active. The gas giant’s rings, made of highly reflective regolith, had been fully stabilized, and between their bands (or directly inside them) were located copious amounts of orbital habitats, artificial satellites and production facilities. More than 5 major moons, thousands of kilometers large and extensively terraformed and inhabited, orbited the planet as well, together with their 120 smaller siblings.

The EverBlight was, normally at least, a MegaCaptor ship serving in the 3rd Border Patrol Fleet; however, it had been called to Fylethim, another world in Quadrant 1, to be outfitted with new experimental Gravity Engines, and had now entered Thainul Inthae’s high orbit after a short patrol session of the surfaces of the system’s two innermost planets. Just when the EverBlight was about to depart back and go towards one of the Hyperlane Relay Station, the main deck received an urgent notification from one of the sensor arrays.



Unknown Energy Burst detected at 0.07 AUs from current location of CpCMg-5281.

Unknown Energy Emission signatures originating at 0.07 AUs from current location of CpCMg-5281.

Unknown Continuated Energy Emissions originating at 0.07 AUs from current location of CpCMg-5281.

Energy Burst and Continuated Energy Emissions appear to be of similar nature.

Energy signatures do not match any known natural event or known foreign technological signature.

Please investigate. The Central Management Terminal for the GAF has already been informed. No notification or permission request is needed.

Excitedly, the EverBright’s captain, ordered the rest of the crew to change route. Instead of going directly back to the Border Hyperlane, they would be taking a short detour to investigate this mysterious anomaly. Even in the worst case possible, it would just be a Warp Space Anomaly. Those had become more common (and actually started happening) inside of the Galactyan Volumes, probably due to the heightened Drakari traffic, even though the actual cause was yet to be determined. So, to put it simply, it would have just been a simple and short trip that would take them 15 minutes at most. Nothing important.


“Hexadecimal, respond”
 -No Construct, carry on. Lord Araknis is requesting the presence of Hexadecimal-
 [Understood, Monitor. Any standing orders?]
 -Continue overseeing the repairs of the ship

 Construct, data provided by you suggests the possibility of a first contact situation. What protocols must you follow in preparation, and what protocols must you follow in case of a first contact situation?-
 [Pertaining to the mandi; Section 6B of the Mandabis Treaty; In the event of a first contact outside of Colonus Pact territory: No mandi may engage in negotiations until reparations have been made. No mandi may leave a Colonian shuttle outside of Colonus space until reparations have been made. If this is not possible, the crew of the ship is ordered to escape back to Colonian space or, this being impossible, detonate the shuttle. No mandi may bring a Colonian ship or station into combat against foreign parties until reparations have been made.]
 [Pertaining to Hexadecimal constructs; Section 1A of the Hexadecimal Loyalty programming; No construct or avatar (see studies of foreign AIs) of Hexadecimal may enter the systems, stations, or shuttles of foreign parties unless given explicit permission from the ruler of the Colonus Pact. If this is not possible, the construct or avatar is ordered to remove themselves from the situation, either by self destructing, escaping back into Colonus Territory, or, if no higher-ranking officer is present, bringing the ship or shuttle into combat.]
 [Orders received. I am authorized to open communications with foreign party if necessary. Please confirm orders]
 -Orders confirmed-
 [Have a nice day, Monitor!]
 -Goodbye, construct-


With it’s warp bubble surrounding it to prevent temporal dilations, the EverBright traveled towards the anomalous energy source at a considerable fraction of the speed of light, reaching the source in little over 30 seconds.

However, when they reached their destination and the light coming from outside the bubble ceased being distorted and returned back to it’s normal state, what the ship had just appeared in front of wasn’t at all a Mirial Anomaly or a strange new phenomena to observe.

As the Gravitometric Compression Radars had anticipated a few seconds before dropping out of warp, this was a vessel. Of unknown origin. Suffice to say, the captain, along with her crew, quickly realized that they wouldn’t be going back to their normal duties very soon.

“Holy SHIT - Quick, scan the ship and compare the results with all known designs! Check to see if there are any lifeforms on board and if they are armed. Activate the shields and ready all weapons. Contact Thainul Inthae and tell them of a possible first contact situation. Do we have any way of communicating with them directly?”

“No Captain, we don’t, at least not yet. However, Thainul Inthae should have some enhanced Calerostan prototypes, so we could ask them to send it to as in program form.”

“Do that. In how much time will they be able to send it to us?”

“Considering they have to transfer it and compile it, I think we’ll receive it in anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.”

“Good. We just have to hold them off for a while before we can properly communicate. That is, if they don’t already have a universal translator of their own. Got anything from the scans?”

“No Captain. The ship doesn’t match any known energy signature or design in our database. The radars picked up various biological life signs of identical nature who we presume are sapient, and they seem to have detected the possible repository signal of a virtual intelligence. Judging by the data stream, it might be of the third or even fourth toposophic.”

“As for the armament scan, they do seem to possess some ElectroMagnetic Pulse Weaponry, as well as some internal large scale Chemical Explosives of unknown purpose. They won’t pose a major threat though, as their total armament is quite small, similar to that of a fighter craft. If they try anything funny we can just lock on them with the Captor Beams and fire a Metric Compression Wave at them. They won’t stand a chance.”

“Excellent. Having the upper hand is crucial in these situations. Activate the communications array and send it to the ship. Let’s just hope they can translate it on their own.”


1 Like

 [Ah, they appear to be communicating with us! Monitor, please relay this data back to Hexadecimal for translation]
 -You shall have it in 5 minutes-
 [Excellent, thank you!]

 Hexadecimal got to work fixing the external sensors. The ship before them was fairly large, at roughly 15 kilometers in scale. This was massive compared to the science vessel, but dwarfed by the capital ships of the royal fleet. What’s more, there was a strange sort of energy shielding being generated around the ship. It wasn’t powered by any sort of energy susceptible to EMPs or any sort of military-grade electrical-disablement technology. By all means, it shouldn’t have been possible.
 But then again, neither should travelling to other dimensions.
 Hexadecimal couldn’t wait until they cracked the code for those shields. That… that would truly be something
 The Admiral limped up to the deck. Normally, the mandi present would stand and salute, but there were no mandi present. All of them were either repairing the ship or tending to the wounded. Hexadecimal released the appropriate pheromones to fill him in. He seemed to pause, uncertain. Then he remembered that he could do nothing, and slumped back into the chair. Mandi despised nothing more than doing nothing. Non-insectoids came in at a close second.

 After exactly 5 minutes, a translation came in. Hexadecimal analyzed it, and formulated a response.
 ~[Galactyan shuttle, the is Hexadecimal, conducting discussions on behalf of the crew of this science vessel, and the Colonus Pact, your neighbor on the other side of Pelinai. We entered your space accidentally during a test you are not authorized to know of. Please note that the destruction of this ship by any hands other than our own will be seen as an act of war. May I just say how wonderful it is to meet a new species!]


The Galactyans were admittedly taken aback by the duality of the response, but were much more relieved that they wouldn’t have to resort to more… particular methods of communications, as they often lead to miscomprehensions pretty soon in a first contact.

To make the situation even better, the Universal Translator program had arrived on the ship, and had been quickly installed by the Communications AI Systems.

Regardless of the war threat, the alien virtual intelligence seemed rather amicable and friendly. The mood in the main bridge, that had been tense up until that point, improved wonderfully.

We share the same feelings with you Hexidecimal. We had intercepted some unknown energy signatures from the edge of Ferristian Space before, but we were not aware of your existence.

We are well aware of what the destruction of your vessel would lead to, and feel lucky to not have to resort to it.

Right now, you are inside the Thirris Star System, near the Core Worlds of the Galactyan Empire.

We would like to carry out a diplomatic meeting in person, if that is possible. An orbital habitat could be adapted to fit the exact gravitational and atmospheric parameters that your biologic crewmates require to survive.


 ~[Hrm, how interesting…]
 The Admiral began pacing. They had expected their neighbors to keep an eye on Colonus, but to share that data with other star nations? It seemed absurd.
 ~[I’m afraid due to internal reasons, as well as a discussion held with our government since our arrival here, we are not authorized to dock with your ship. If you wish to talk “face-to-face”, we may open communications through the viewscreen! Keep in mind that I, as a small fraction of a greater ai, do not have a physical form. Also keep in mind that the Admiral, whom you will be able to see, is not authorized to communicate with you. Should any more “road bumps”, as humans call them, come up, I’ll be sure to inform you of it! Now, I look forward to beginning First Contact discussions!]


Then we shall carry out diplomacy trough audiovisual communications. I'll be sure to inform you if any other problem arises as well.

A Picture of Captain Kelisy Larimar at a private gathering of Divinue.

You should be able to see me now. My name is Kelisy Larimar, captain of the EverBright. I'm honored to meet you Hexadecimal. I have met some virtual intelligences belonging to the higher toposophics in my life, but never a xenosapient one.

Before we start some proper diplomatic talks however, I wanted to ask you more about what you know of humans. As you can see I'm one of them, or at least I used to be long ago. We thought that they only existed within the Drakari Imperium, but that seems to not be the case.


 ~[Ah, greetings Captain! I have to admit, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting another AI before. My creation was a great undertaking to the peoples of Colonus, and I’m afraid uncertainty is only outlived by the Jellies.]
 ~[Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself! As to your actual question, I am quite perplexed. Of course we know a little of our neighbors in Drakari, but you seem to be misinformed somewhat. You see, the humans who wound up in our territory brought with them a database, which unfortunately sustained damage in an event they seem to consider private. However, what data remains accessible seems to suggest that humans claim a home outside of our galaxy! They believe they hail from a planet called “Earth.” How fascinating! If this is true, one could only imagine all that these great cosmos of void and color hold!]
 The Admiral stood up and poured himself a glass of a thick blue liquid.
 [Ah, poor man. Those mandi best get the neural net up soon]
 ~[I must ask though, how much do you know of Colonus? I’d hate to be at a disadvantage when talks between our governments inevitably start.]


Yes, I do know of Earth. In the Drakari Imperium, where I come from, we call it Terra. Galactyans call it either one or the other. The Empire is much more interested in that planet than one would assume.

Anywho, don't worry my virtual friend, we know pretty much nothing about your nation. We just suspected that someone was there, but we didn't care much to investigate. We recently realized that we were mistaking the energy signatures of all our allied civilizations for gamma ray bursts, spacial anomalies and regular star activity. By that logic we may have picked something up from your nation's very beginnings! If you're not older than us, that is.

Regardless, I certainly wouldn't mind hearing more about Colonus. It certainly seems like an interesting place if a sub-Archailect such as yourself comes from there. If you want to you can ask me anything about Galactya as well.


 ~[I have found that there is no such thing as empty space. Any territory not owned by any known star nations can be assumed to be owned by others. Even the very founders of the Colonus Pact expanded as far as they could, whilst using only a fraction of the territory themselves.]
 ~[But, you wanted to know more about Colonus! I very much doubt our Empire is older than yours, being founded only 700 years ago. The mandi and vanti themselves have only been in space for roughly 1000 years and 1500 years respectively, and the 7 other species living in Colonus territory all have differing levels of technological advancement. I myself became alive 341 years ago, although I’ll spare you the more minute details of that date.]
 ~[As for the actual empire, you can split it into two intertwining pieces. The Colonus Pact is made up of the vanti kingdom, mandi collective, and the recent addition of the mandi freethinker’s republic. The Colonus Territories are made up of the Humans, the Ytharans, the Jellies and the poor species that worships them, and some other species you may meet during negotiations.]
 ~[I must say, you are incredibly lucky! Had I not convinced Lord Araknis to allow me to monitor this scientific venture, and had the mandi not taken an unfortunate course of action recently, you’d have no method of communicating with this shuttle. In fact, the odds of this having played out are so low, it’s almost a new record!]


Then I take honor in my luck. This whole situation is already the height of any Captain's career, but being among the first to see a species trascends that, much more than I can properly put to words.

Anywho, I'm pleased to see that your nation is quite diverse. Biological and cultural diversity can provide much more to a nation than one would assume. Diversity is the bane of stagnation after all.

The Galactyans Empire, as you rightfully guessed, is much much older than your own. Founded more than 9600 Standard Years ago after a great calamity and a Global War, it has spread to occupy almost every celestial body in it's occupied Volumes, engineering barren planets and moons into worlds brimming with life.

The Empire is very technologically advanced on all fronts, but it's main field of advencement still remains genetic engineering: throught the millenia, Galactyans have mastered life itself: we are now able to create new organisms from nothing, and give the gift of sapience to other species. We modified ourselves too of course: as of now, the Empire has more than 80 different species that it considers as equal citizens, all united under one banner.

I myself, have become a Galactyan, but I was born as a human. When I decided to come live in the Empire around a century ago, I decided to get "reassembled", a quick procedure in which the basic proteins of my DNA were completely replaced with the mysterious synthesized proteins that every biological Galactyan has, and that no foreign power has yet managed to recreate.

As you were already able to see, we heavily value cooperation and friendliness on all levels, whether that may be relating yourself to another person, or dealing with a Foreign Power. Once, Galactyans were less than friendly, but we changed for the better, and now have a chance to meet other friends in the stars, such as yourself.

And that should be all I believe! Lucky me that I took all those history courses at university. Anywho, I wanted to ask you a question dear friend. As you said before, the Admiral is not allowed to talk to me. Is it allowed for me to know why that's the case?


 ~[Ah, I see your altered genetics have have extended your lifespan. You must meet the Jellies!]
 ~[Ah, but I’m once again getting sidetracked! No, I’m afraid you might not be authorized to know about those details for another 98 years, and by then the Admiral’s descendants will be able to tell you about it themselves]
 [I’m curious though. With your mastery of genetic manilulation, many different species, and frequent terraforming of planets, roughly where does this put your population count, if I may ask? Of course, with all the information I’ve had to withold from you, it’d hardly be fair to expect you to answer all of *my* questions.]


Extended is an understatement. From what our simulations predict, Galactyans are biologically immortal. I mean, there are some Galactyans that approach 2000 years of age! Those are the real oldies, eheh.

It's quite a shame that I won't be able to discuss with the Admiral, but 90 years are not much for me anymore. Unless I unfortunately die in an accident of some sort, the chances of me still being at my best in a century are very, very high.

As for your question, the Empire's current population is around... 80 trillion citizens. Most are embodied, some have uploaded themselves or were directly born virtual, and a very, very small number of them are the intelligences that run our megastructures. I hope you get to meet them one day, they're much nicer and humble than one would expect.

What about Colonus instead? I believe that information isn't such a state secret. After all, I see no reason for why it would or how it could be.


 ~[I see no harm in sharing these statistics. The population is split between Colonus Pact members and the species living in Colonian territory. The population of Colonus Pact members is currently sitting at roughly 60 trillion members, recently 90 trillion members, spread mostly between 37 planets. The Colonus Territory Species contains roughly 20 trillion members, recently 30 trillion members, spread mostly between 461 planets.]
 ~[2000 years is incredible, but I must admit I was hoping for longer. Also, am I correct in thinking that the intelligences operating your megastructures chose to do that? Operating a megastructure can be fun, but the only reason I exist is because Hexadecimal finds greater pleasure in helping with the more nationally relevant issues of Colonus. How curious!]


Well no, not technically. However, you have to consider that for most of them, the megastructures that they tend to are their own "bodies": if they let them go, they would cease to exist, while also causing a great deal of damage to others. Besides, almost all high operator intelligences are of the third or fourth toposophic, so they can dedicate a tiny part of themselves to running the megastructures with the help of additional second and first toposophic minds, while doing an incredible variety of things. For example, a couple years ago Stream Of The Creek, the intelligence that operates a Matryoshka Micronode in the Empire's south, won a videogame championship while still maintaining the Micronode 100% operational. Ey were very fun on the livestream. One other time instead ey connected to an engenerated avatar and went around some worlds in Quadrant 5. So yeah, they do have all the entertainment one could ask for.

That aside, your Empire is extremely populous! Either you had a very ancient population basis, or some of your species procreate with quite a passion! We would have probably broken the 100 trillion mark by now too, if the population growth rate hadn't gotten so low compared to the last millennium. But oh well, since almost nobody dies, it's still growth. Easier on the Empire's resources as well.

I know this might be an odd question, but what do you think of genetic modification? The Empire has achieved such familiarity with even the deepest, most profound workings of life that Galactyans can create it from scratch. A thing we do a lot is create complete, thriving and always unique environments as part of our terraforming processes.


 ~[Well, I’m sure with all of Galactya’s collected knowledge on genetics you’re familiar with eusocial species, such as ants, bees, and in this case, the Mandi. You can imagine how a combination of factors can lead to a ballooning population in their space age. They currently make up half the total population. Colonus would truly grow stagnant without them… not that they aren’t without their flaws… Maybe it’s a good thing that the Admiral isn’t conducting these negotiations.]
 ~[And genetic manipulation? You could imagine how feelings on such a topic would be mixed. At worst, you’d get strange looks and hushed whispers. At best, you’d be treated no different than a member of the Colonus Pact. Terraforming is a convenience, although not quite worth it outside of the territories.]
 ~[Now, you brought up avatars. We’re vaguely aware of the idea, but you… use them? I’ve never been too keen on the idea myself. No, that would be… strange]


Yes, we are. There are lots of worlds where eusocial species rule the food chain uncontested. Although I guess that can be said for every behavior pattern since we have a stupid number of uncolonized garden worlds.

I'm glad to hear genetic manipulation isn't viewed so harshly by your people. We have had... different experiences in the past. Nothing extremely bad, just slightly unpleasant to get through.

Well, avatars aren't certainly weird for us. It's just a way in which virtual intelligences can interact with their embodied compatriots. Of course, the virtuals spend most of their time inside their various hyper-realistic virtual realities and interact with the physical world through relay systems and connected interfaces, thus still being true citizens of the Empire and not being completely isolated. Avatars are especially used by the higher virtuals to live the "true modosapient experience". It's a form of a simpler yet more complex existence that they rightfully find intriguing.

Avatars are mostly biosynthetic, but there are examples of both extremes. Most colonies have public engenerator stations connected to the national holonet that can build an avatar on the spot. Of course, one can buy a personal engenerator as well, if they need it.

Now, I may not be a virtual myself, but I believe you should try one before rendering your judgement about it Hexadecimal. Many of the virtuals I know have spoken very positively of them.


 ~[Ah, well, there might have been a minsunderstanding. I am only a fragment of Hexadecimal, and would more accurately be called a construct of them. Hexadecimal doesn’t just operate a megastructure, they are the megastructure. So, whilst I, Hexadecimal, could theoretically operate an Avatar without its head exploding, Hexadecimal would simply be too large to fit any meaningful portion of themself inside such a small shell.]
 ~[Which brings me to my second point. If a construct such as me were to inhabit a biological avatar, it would very probably be unpleasant. Whilst I may seem intelligent to you, this was not the main… how to put it… I suppose trait or skill would work, that my creators focused on. Obviously, any AI should be able to think intelligently, but it must do more than that. Rather than basing myself off of a brain, Colonian scientists instead worked on making me capable of perception, and applying that information how biological life would. For example, I can see that a flower is blue, realize that it has a nice smell, and decide that more of those flowers should be planted. I have no idea what would happen if I were put inside a biological body.]


Well there was definitely a misunderstanding, but not on my side! I did know, or at least assumed, that you were only a part of the complete Hexadecimal. That’s how things work for any intelligence of the third toposophic, as big as the megastructure it inhabits. And secondly, don’t let thr name confuse you: as I said, while they are called structure operators, the structures that they handle are their own bodies. Hence why avatars either contain a small portion of an S3’s intelligence, or are simply remote controlled.

Avatars contain an individual’s full consciousness mostly with S0 and S1 beings, while S2s and S3s can only use remote control, or transfer a small part of themselves in the vessel. Also, an engenerator creates an avatar based on your pre-existing perception of the world and toposophic level, unless you decide to change said parameters.

So, if you were to put a small part of yourself inside a fully biological avatar, which you would remain connected to thanks to a computronium relay or something similar, your perception of the world wouldn’t change much, and I doubt that it would be a pleasant experience.

Now, I sadly think it would be wise for us to go back to a proper diplomatic discussion. So, let’s see… ah yes. Hexadecimal, would you be able to give me, and by extension the Empire, a communication link with Colonus’ Government?