Relics of the Wise Dragon.
Historical artifacts attributed to the Wise Dragon from Kisor's Middle Ages.
The artifacts were found at excavations on Kisor-Beta. A stratigraphic analysis assigns the finds to the beginning of the Kisor High Middle Ages. Allegedly they come from the burial place of the so-called Wise Dragon, an old legend of the Kisori. The artifacts were later stolen by a Chinti raid. They've been missing ever since. The incident had serious consequences for Kisor.
About 200 years after the Time of Repopulation, Kisor is still an insignificant regional power. On the interstellar scale, Kisor-Beta has a small population of a few billion. Alpha is still in the process of eco-forming with only several hundred million inhabitants. The economy of the system is robust and modern. But neither the system nor the planets have a common government. There are several major nations on Alpha, Beta and the Beta moon. The international structure is dominated by the factions, which emerged from the repopulation and the upheavals following a religious war between Singularites and Alturists 60 years earlier. A weak League of Nations regulates foreign relations and system defense force.
Kisor's League of Nations is formally allied with the humanity. There are good economic and cultural relations with the human sphere. Contact goes mainly through the nearby Fox System, where the interplanetary civilization has a large share of humans. Despite the defense alliance with humans, Kisor does not actively participate in the war against the Chinti. Kisor is located far from the hot spots of the war between Chinti and humans. The expansion of the Chinti swarms went towards the galactic center. It affected the human sphere much more than Kisor. Some time ago, the expansion came to a halt. Humanity has achieved considerable successes. The Chinti are now under military pressure. Humanity pushed them into the defenive. The swarms now go to great lengths to avoid turning other races against them. They rather look for allies. They certainly don't want new enemies. Not even a small system like Kisor.
That's why the Chinti's attack on Kisor was so unexpected.
The attack is more a commando raid than a military operation. Several neutral trading ships in orbit around Kisor-Beta suddenly turn into warships and troop carriers. Instead of the declared trading goods they carry space superiority weapons and landing troops. They attack the National Historical Archive of the nation state of the South Pole continent. Some units secure the airspace above the National Archives and relevant orbital planes. They hold the space for about two kiloseconds. Mech infantry landing troops made up of mercenaries from various races secure a ten kilometer radius on the ground. Chinti special forces enter a (secret) high security area of the National Historical Institute. Obviously, they know exactly where to go. They use express tubes until they reach the research institute where the artifacts of the Wise Dragon are kept.
The Wise Dragon is a legendary figure from the early Middle Ages of Kisor-Beta. Twenty years ago, archologists had discovered several artifacts during excavations near the lost city of Tis La Nat in the north of the south pole continent. The artifacts did not fit to the medieval historical record. They were so different that they could not really belong together. But they lay together in a burial chamber that has not been opened since the early Middle Ages. They had been buried for five millennia im a chamber near the legendary city of Tis La Nat. The chamber was covered by debris of the nuclear explosion that destroyed Tis La Nat. On top of that was the debris of the kinetic bombing by the RogOzar. The site was also hidden by the transformation of geography during the Time of Repopulation. Much time and many events have passed over the artifacts. And much debris.
The legendary city of Tis La Nat was discovered during the geographical redesign of Kisor-Beta some 200 years ago. For 5000 years the city was only a myth. It appeared in the legends of the early Middle Ages. But until the repopulation there was no hard evidence that the city really existed. The ruins were buried so deep that they were not even discovered by high-tech means while Kisor was a regional centre of the Interian Empire. During the redesign of Beta in the course of the repopulation 200 years earlier, the first traces were found. But then was not the right time for major archaeological excavations. 80 years later, about 120 years ago, the Tsibinda discovery confirmed the true core of very old legends. Archaeology in the context of legends became fashionable and excavations increased. But Tis La Nat was not the only excavation site and the funds were still limited because Kisor-Beta was in the middle of reconstruction.
Then, 25 years ago, a huge historical archive with data from the Middle Ages was discovered: the t5a-chamber of Artu. The t5a-chamber contained a wealth of information about real events during the Middle Ages. Events, which were previously only known from legends. Automatic miners and associators did not take long to raise the treasure of knowledge. They confirmed the existence of Tis La Nat, its destruction by a nuclear explosion and its geographical location. With the newly gained prosperity and the resources now available, Tis La Nat became a focal point of archaeological excavations. Archaeology bots uncovered many square kilometres in a short time. Among them was an old altruistic cemetery from the time shortly before the end of Tis La Nat.
In one burial chamber archaeologists found a very rare titanium box with strange artifacts. Speculations soon arose that the artifacts might be the remains of the legendary Wise Dragon. The Wise Dragon is the central figure of the Dragon Legends. These Dragon Legends are connected to the "Journeys of Uri Tza Meka" by the figure of the so called "dragon in the shape of a Kisori". Since the legends around Uri Tza Meka had been confirmed by the discovery of Tsibinda, it was reasonable to assume that the Dragon Legends also contain a true core. The "dragon in Kisori shape", later called the Wise Dragon, is a protagonist in "Uri Tza Meka's Travels". In a way, he got his own spin-off with the Dragon Legends.
In the Dragon Legends, the Wise Dragon is wandering around for a thousand years. He experiences countless adventures. The adventures are probably almost all fictional. They have been invented and added by many generations of storytellers in the second and third millennium of the Middle Ages. But the figure of the Wise Dragon might be the same as the "dragon in Kisori shape" from "Uri Tza Meka's Travels". He might have looked like contemporary Kisori of the early Middle Ages. But it was actually a highly developed weapons AI from the old Solemic Empire. If this were true, then the titanium box may contain a technological treasure.
The box contains
- the skeleton of a Kisori,
- an improvised but modern prosthetic leg,
- a damaged medieval short sword, and
- a state-of-the-art nanocomplex arsenal.
The arsenal is a small round box the size of a hockey puck. On the top it has an IO matrix of millions of signal threads. The arsenal contains an AI and microbot-fabs that can produce an external nanocomplex as a "body". Theoretically, the nanocomplex can be made any size. In practice, the size is limited by the energy consumption, the number of signal threads, the production time and available raw materials.
The sword fits perfectly into the early Middle Ages. It was ground out of a steel beam. A normal procedure for a medieval blacksmith in a world where gigatons of debris from a former high-tech civilization lie around. The sword looks worn and damaged. It must have been very expensive. it takes a lot of time and effort to grind a sword from a modern steel beam with medieval means.
The skeleton and the prosthetic leg give an insight into the late history of the real "dragon in Kisori shape". The dragon of the early Dragon Legends is very powerful. He is a kind of superhero. Later his physical abilities diminish. The focus shifts from physical feats to magical abilities. Late stories tell primarily about wisdom and diplomacy. At the beginning, in "Uri Tza Meka's Travels" the dragon is a probably a nanocomplex. This is a microbot agglomerate, which looks like liquid metal and consists of countless microbots. For its life among the surviving Kisori it took on the shape of a Kisori. It is very powerful and as strong as 100 Kisori.
After the collapse of modern civilization and the dawn of the Middle Ages there are no more charging stations. But batteries can still be found for some time. Kisor's high-tech economy did not just produce simple nanocapacitors. Energy storage devices based on metallic hydrogen and quantum capacitors have a thousand times higher energy densities. There may even have been chromodynamic storage devices with 100 k times the capacity. Such high-tech batteries could power a nanocomplex for decades.
Many stories revolve around the search for energy sources. In medieval descriptions, they appear as gems and other objects with life energy. High-tech batteries may also explode dramatically if they are damaged. The explosive force can be in the kiloton range. Exploding life energy stones occur in some early stories, as an accident or as a last resort in a hopeless situation. The AI seems to weaponize its energy supply if needed.
During the first centuries after the fall, the tech level of Kisor drops until it reaches the level known from the legends. Energy sources become worse and rare. The dragon must improvise. He charges at steam turbines with electric generators and uses the last working solar plants. Maybe he even charges manually with the help of other Kisori. He is now limited by his small built in storage device and long charging cycles. He avoids energetically demanding features such as proactive shields, superagility and high-speed darts. He uses archaic weapons and occasionally a microbot cloud to cast "magic".
In the course of the thousand-year run-time the microbots degrade. There are late dragon stories in which limbs are missing and were the dragon becomes smaller. At times he appears as a dwarf. Some legends show him as a child, although he must be 1000 years old by then. Probably the dragon loses more and more microbots over time. Its active volume shrinks.
Apparently, he can't manufacture spare parts. This is unusual, because a highly developed nanocomplex arsenal should have microbot-fabs. Maybe the fabs require high-tech metamaterials. Or maybe the Fabs simply fail at some point. Maybe they suffered damage during fighting. The arsenal of a weapons AI is certainly not specifically insulated against mechanical shocks from archaic weapons. And it's certainly not designed to last for a thousand years. The arsenal's capability to produce replacement parts diminishes more and more. Eventually, it cannot produce Mikrobots anymore.
The dragon must save resources. He becomes a sage. He works as an advisor and as a diplomat. He can still rely on virtually unlimited memory and on highly developed memetic techniques. As a diplomat he achieves compromises that none of the contemporary Kisori would have thought possible. According to legend, he could be very convincing.
But even in a careful mode of operation, the elements of a nanocomplex degrade over time. The loss was probably orders of magnitude lower than what we are used to from our commercial gear. But even military grade technology from a civilization as highly developed as the Solemic Empire has its limits. At some point there were too few microbots left for a credible Kisori like appearance. He had to come up with something else.
The artefacts found show the solution to the problem. There are traces of signal fibres throughout the skeleton. These are remnants of the microbot filaments. Apparently, the dragon - or rather the AI of the arsenal - started using biological bodies as androids (so called bioroids). It used the remaining microbots only as signal fibers. However, it needed a functioning body. And not just one. These real biological bodies age quite normally. Every few decades the dragon had to change into a new bio-shell. In the early days it had given itself a Kisori shape so as not to stand out. That's when it got the name "Kisori-shaped dragon". When he had to switch to using bioroids, he was literally "in" a Kisori shape.
It is unknown how exactly the AI acquired living Kisori bodies. The Dragon Legends provide some clues. The dragon could allegedly slip into Kisori and take them over. According to the legends, it was a long process. Exactly what one would expect of wiring, activating, and customizing a new bioroid. A late dragon story tells that the dragon "revives" a companion who had just dies in battle. Certainly, the AI with its microbots was able to heal injuries from the inside and even restore the circulation. But this had to happen fast before multiple organ failure began.
Another story tells that the dragon negotiated with one of the countless regional warlords. When the negotiations failed, the dragon sacrificed his own life to cast a powerful spell that made the adversary's soul peaceful. The warlord stopped the attack. The threatened people were saved. The warlord spent the rest of his life building a peaceful empire. It sounds like the AI, in dire straits, abandoned its current bioroid to occupy a new one.
Any change and the necessary rewiring will have cost microbots. The dragon's life span may have been long, but finally it was limited. The skeleton found was very old. It had several prostheses, including the entire right leg from hip to heel. Towards the end, the AI apparently tried to extend the lifespan of its bioroid.
The last body was old and had been repaired many times. It is assumed that the AI did not have enough resources left to switch bodies another time. Or maybe there was simply no new body available when the old one failed. Maybe the end came suddenly, due to an infection or an injury. In almost all legends the dragon is a force for good in the (Kisori) world. Only very rarely is he on the side of evil. Except for some - morally justified - exceptions, the AI seems not to have taken over and killed any living Kisori.
Possibly the AI decided to accept its fate and stop its activity. It allowed friends to solemnly bury the "dead" Wise Dragon. This can be concluded from the fact that the mortal remains were buried in a very precious titanium box together with personal belongings. Kirosi at the end of the first medieval millennium certainly could not produce titanium. The titanium plates used to fabricate the box must have been relics of the lost high-tech civilization. After a medieval period of 1000 years, there were probably not many well-preserved pieces left.
The Wise Dragon "died" 5300 years ago. The AI went into hibernation after 1200 years of operation. It had done this before. The Kisori knew it as the Wise Dragon. But before that it was a military weapons AI of the Solemic Empire. It was in hibernation for 700 years after the war was lost and the empire fell. The hibernation ended when Isulisamikal, the historical model of the legendary figure Uri Tza Meka, discovered and re-activated the AI.
The AI is highly developed. Due to a lack of microbot production, it is passive and largely harmless. Without microbots it cannot physically defend itself against analytical measures. But it still contains knowledge about military technologies that are clearly superior to ours.
This combination makes the nanocomplex arsenal a unique artifact. Nowhere else is a fully functioning high-tech weapons AI without protective measures to be found. Whoever manages to reactivate the AI and extract the know-how can gain a military advantage. This is especially interesting in times of war and crisis:
- for humanity in the fight against the Chinti swarms,
- for the defense of the Chinti against humanity,
- for Kisori as protection against humans,
- for the South Pole nation of Kisor-Beta, where the arsenal was found, in the struggle for supremacy on the planet.
- And, of course, for many other interstellar races and factions in their own conflicts.
The government imposes an information blackout immediately after the discovery of the artifacts.
Scientists from the South Pole nation are studying the arsenal.
They establish security measures despite the presumed passivity of the AI. Before supplying the AI with energy, the arsenal is physically shielded by nested nano-caves. An information isolation prohibits the AI from reaching out to the net. Powerful analysis technologies work inside of the isolated space. But there is only a narrow-band control channel through the info-perimeter just in case the AI compromises the analytics gear.
The full range of modern minimally invasive foreign technology diagnostics is employed. The scientists use nanotechnical probes and actuators to perform hardware exploration and level-0 info mapping. They need 10 years for the basic analysis and another 5 years to create a compatible power supply. Then comes information infiltration. After 4 years the AI reacts to signals. But it is difficult to activate the AI without knowledge of proper activation procedures and access codes. Side channel attacks and physical bypass of protected areas have no effect. The information architecture is too alien. The AI uses other information technology fundamentals and principles than known technology.
6600 years ago, Isulisamikal faced the same problem. If the legends are to be believed, then she needed only a few weeks to activate the solemic AI and bring it to the service of Kisor.
It is possible Isulisamikal had access to technology that we don't have today. After all, before she was with the royal Kisor Directorate of Alien Technology, she was an AI manager serving in the Mercato hierarchy for many years. Or maybe she simply took a different approach. Legend has it that the "dragon in Kisori shape" was a friend of Uri Tza Meka. The dragon helped Uri Tza Meka to defend his home in gratitude for waking him from a 100 year sleep (in fact it was 700 years). In other words, the historical Kisori Isulisamikal won the AI of the arsenal as an ally and friend. Isulisamikal does not seem to have kept the AI isolated and imprisoned. After all, the AI is a conscious individual and the way how it is treated may determine its internal decision-making processes.
In any case, after 19 years, the scientists at the Infohistorical Institute of the South Pole nation's National Archive achieve a major milestone. They communicate with the AI. This is a breakthrough that gives hope that usable results are not far off.
The research is being conducted under the strictest secrecy. But news of the breakthrough does not stay secret for long. The South Pole nation is closely aligned with the Middle Fox System, where it is linked to human-singularite dominated consortia. Many of the scientists, security personnel and political leaders involved are human. Humans and Kisori are roughly equally represented. The South Pole nation is a shining example of interspecies cohabitation between Humans and Kisori just like the Middle Fox System. Humanity's intelligence services have good access. The foreign intelligence service of Cobol's Reshumanis has partners among the South Pole nation's scientists and informants in the supervisory authority. So, the news gets quickly to Cobol.
The Reshumanis of Cobol is the military-political arm of humanity in the war against the Chinti. In the beginning Reshumanis was only a defensive alliance. With the financial reform 40 years ago, it became the leading interstellar organization of the human sphere. It is now developing interstellar administrative structures. The term Reshumanis has become synonymous with a human empire. And the Cobol system is its centre. There resides the Executive Council, a representation of member systems, worlds, and factions.
For almost 100 years, humanity has been waging war against the Chinti swarms. In the beginning it was a desperate defensive fight against an unknown and brutal opponent. But in the course of time humanity learned to know the Chinti. Cooperations with small renegade Chinti swarms living at the fringe of the Sol system were helpful in learning about the Chinti.
100 years of conflict and confrontation brought the enemies closer. They learned about each other, made contact and sometimes even established communication channels. Through renegade Chinti swarms it was possible to establish intelligence contacts. The different biology makes such contacts more difficult than within one species. But there are always neutral third parties, infiltration of allies, renegade factions and defectors who are actually double agents. The density of such intelligence contacts is much lower than within a species. But they do exist. In other words, the Reshumanis has informants among the Chinti. And the Chinti swarms have contacts inside Reshumanis.
The news of the breakthrough reaches the Chinti through a double agent of a renegade swarm in Sol's Kuiper Belt. The dominant Chinti swarm has been alarmed ever since humanity halted the Chinti expansion. The swarm heart rightly fears that humanity will soon take the offensive. The swarm heart desperately needs strategic disruptions. It searches for allies and technologies that can turn the tide. Access to weapons technology of the old Solemic Empire would be such a disruptive development.
The Chinti need a year to prepare for the extraction operation at Kisor:
- They turn merchant ships with real traffic histories into covert warships (Q-Ships).
- They hire mercenaries to act as a front.
- They coordinate the ships' flight plans so that all of them reach the orbit of Kisor-Beta at the same time.
The extraction operation is successful.
The Chinti Special Forces:
- secure orbit, orbital access and surface,
- locate the nano-complex arsenal,
- penetrate the research area deep below the surface,
- find the the arsenal and take it from the isolation chamber,
- return to the surface,
- bring the loot into space,
- leave the system despite great losses,
- and finally bring the nanocomplex arsenal with the AI to the swarm heart in the Chinti domain.
Of course, the raid makes big waves. Officially, Kisor is a warring party on the side of humanity. But in fact, Kisor is neutral. An attack on a neutral power can have serious consequences for the strategic situation. It might even lead to the opening of a new front. That's why the Chinti proceed as carefully as possible. They refrain from bombing the attacked area afterwards. Normally they would have sterilized a radius of 100 kilometers to a depth of two kilometers to conceal the objectives of the operation. Any bombing would have cost millions of lives. Or, they could have wiped out the entire planetary surface. After all, that was their plan in what humans call the Chinti catastrophe. The attack in 3190 marked the start of the war. One third of the solar population lost their lives.
But in this case the Chinti try to do as little damage as possible. They refrain from bombing. And the strategy works. The Kisor League of Nations protests strongly. The system defense force strikes a remote Chinti base. The action has no military value.
Due to the restraint of the Chinti the operation's objectives are well known to all interested parties. The public doesn't know about the artifacts of the Wise Dragon. But the political leadership on Kisor and the human Reshumanis know exactly what is at stake:
- The nations of Kisor-Beta - citizens and governments - are horrified that system defense force could not thwart the attack. The raid was over before the defense force could intervene.
- The South Pole nation regrets the loss because the presumed know-how might have strengthened its position on Kisor.
- Singularists in particular had hoped for a strategic advantage over the still dominant Alturism, because the next clash between nations of the two main religions is only a matter of time.
- Historians, AI managers and the military-industrial complex of Kisor regret the loss of potential knowledge, each one from the point of view of their own industry and science.
- The Kisor League of Nations and the system defense force had hoped for advantages in a hypothetical future conflict with humanity. Although humans and Kisori shared the same interests most of the time and although there are examples of successful cohabitation, Sol and Kisor were seldom friends. Sol and Kisor have already waged war against each other twice. The first war ended in total defeat for Sol and a very lenient attitude on Kisor's side. The second conflict ended with a merciless kinetic annihilation of Kisor. The Sol system was occupied by RogOzar at that time and the war was a religiously motivated revenge campaign of the RogOzar. Humanity was forced to take part in it. But from Kisor's point of view, the ships and crews that carried out the attack came from Sol. Kisor really did not have an easy time with Sol. Now Kisor is insignificant and the human dominated Reshumanis is becoming a powerful empire. From the Kisori point of view, this is not a good situation. Any asymmetrical advantage would have been welcome. That's why they kept the artifacts secret from Reshumanis.
- The Reshumanis Executive Council considers the matter to be treason against the alliance. The council judges, that it would have been Kisor's duty to hand over the artifacts to Reshumanis. But Kisor chose to keep potentially war-critical information secret while humanity struggles for its existence. Besides, Reshumanis could have protected them better. That's probably true. Such a raid would not have been possible in the Cobol system. Worse than that, the enemy now has access to the technology. Concealing the artifacts, failing to protect them properly, and then leaving them to the raiders is considered collaboration with the enemy.
Reshumanis has a rigorous binary policy. It knows only allies or adversaries. Such an uncompromising attitude might have been necessary when mankind was on the brink of extermination. But the advance of the Chinti has been halted some time ago. The existence of humanity is no longer immediately threatened. Nevertheless, Reshumanis still adheres to the principle "who is not for us, is against us". The Reshumanis Executive Council wants to set an example. It decides to punish the perceived "treason" with the loss of state sovereignty. Once again humans declare the Kisori as enemies.
The Reshumanis sends a heavily armed task force and landing troops to Kisor. Kisor's system defense force withdraws and gives up the orbit. The combined forces of Kisor would be no match for the Reshumanis fleet. The fleet is materially superior, and it is battle-tested in the Chinti war. The Kisori have only limited combat experience with in-system pirates. Also, the Reshumanis High Command has made clear that the punitive measure only applies to the South Pole nation. Vetoes by several major powers in the League of Nations of Kisor prevent the defense force from becoming active. Some Kisor nations speculate that the South Pole will be weakened by punishment.
The Reshumanis landing troops occupy control nodes of the South Pole nation's information infrastructure on the ground and in orbit. To do so, they must neutralize the resistance of South Pole state troops. Physical access then allows them to insert information warfare devices that take control of the network. Financial, administrative and governmental functions are controlled by the occupying force. The government of the South Pole is thus deprived of power. The Reshumanis High Command issues the standard nuclear threat. This move stops state-organized resistance. Kinetic strikes disrupt major acts of local resistance. Nevertheless, a guerrilla movement develops, which keeps the occupying forces permanently in suspense.
The other nations and factions on Kisor-Beta, Alpha and in the system do not get off scot-free either. Kisor's League of Nations must formally confirm the alliance with Reshumanis once again. As an external sign of the renewed alliance, the League of Nations will also be required to make regular material contributions to the Reshumanis' defense efforts. In practice, this establishes a system whereby Reshumanis levies taxes on Kisor. Kisor thus becomes the first solar system outside of Reshumanis to be subject to tribute.
Reshumanis and humanity move one step closer to establishing an empire.