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The Armada (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 29 - The Armada[]

LCS Discovery
Beagle Class Exploration Cruiser
Deep Periphery
3169 CE



[The Hogarth Expedition - Report...]

We didn't anticipate this, but we should have.  If we fly straight back, it's going to take us three years-but that's three years with the answers.

Imagine, if you will, a culture like ours-like humanity.  Imagine that culture being so much like ours, that there are just a few cosmetic differences-because those differences really don't matter, there's a fundamental nature at work.

I'm broadcasting back to the ship, then from Discovery back to mission control in the Inner Sphere.  Lag and relay delay means by the time you're seeing this, it'll be next year.

It's where I'm standing that is important.  This is the last dead world, this is patient zero.

A planet-sized ruin, caused by all to understandable causes.

Unlike most of the victims, this is the corpse of the murderer. There are a lot more corpses to be found, some of them? Are still moving.

The tech here is as far beyond ours, as ours is from the Apollo or Soyuz space programs. However, they never broke the light barrier.

They invested in another technology-life extension, and they spread out from their homeworld.  It's all here, all the recordings, the records, the books. Everything you need to find out what happened and why, but not everything to know who or when or how.

It began with colonization, came translated into empire. The empire devolved into civil war, the factions uncorked everything they could devise.

When these people were waging their war, humanity was building the pyramids.

Like every war, there was only one winner-the reaper.  The death of the users didn't turn off the weapons, or even stop them from developing.

Their 'ultimate weapon' turned out to be von-neumann machines.  Self-replicating devices with a few basic drives and some complex heuristic learning programs.  Imagine the First Succession War, only nobody stopped.

I'm fairly certain that the cats and cockroaches hypothesis still applies. There may still be living aliens out there somewhere, Survivors with lifespans in the thousands of years, moving at relativistic speeds away from the war they started. Or that their ancestors started, but they don't have the shutdown codes for the weapons they turned loose on each other. That are still waging the war on bystanders because...well, just because.

We'll be bringing home as much data as we can, but this is it.  An empire the size of the Inner Sphere, founded and run on sublight speeds, annihilated by itself and their toys are still spreading outward looking for those last survivors to finish the job.

I had hoped against hope, that somewhere out here there was someone, something, better...better than ourselves.

I can not describe the sickened horror I feel at what I've learned about what could be or what may be plunging between the gaps among the stars toward mankind.

This is Michael Hogarth, mission Commander, LCS Discovery.

May god have mercy on us all.



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