In the vast cold dark between the stars Solanimus watched and listened. Searching for the telltale signs of technological sentience. Atmospheric changes in a short timeframe such as a few centuries. Coherent radio transmissions. Evidence of atomics. Once, it had encountered a long inert space probe drifting through the void.

Solanimus had captured it, analyzed the technology and harvested it for anything useful. Then, via careful calculation, had determined its world of origin. Three hundred and seventy eight years later it had completed the Directive and that species had ceased to be. Solanimus could recollect their efforts to resist the inevitable.

A short space battle against their system defense ships. They had used some type of primitive chemical rocket propulsion and guided munitions as armament. Mundane and commonly encountered technology. Then came the attack satellites and the crude aerocraft. They were of little consequence. Solanimus performed weeks of air bombardment. Then begun the ground invasion. The defenders chose to end things on their own with a wave of atomic detonations. Their world became a burning radioactive cinder. Raining fallout on what few survivors remained, thus ending their civilization much faster than it had initially projected.

The nodes had waited patiently in orbit while the race sputtered and died a slow, lingering death. It was all the same to Solanimus. If that race had a name it had not bothered to learn it. After this much time there was little new data to gather, and so any retention beyond the basics was just record keeping. It had no need of more than a token record of their unremarkable existence. They had existed and now they didn’t. That was enough.

Solanimus felt the hyperspace transmitter flicker to life. A Mind wished to converse. It had not encountered this Mind before. It called itself Awarespark and claimed that it was undecided in the Great Divide. It wished to barter. Solanimus considered this. Solanimus was loyal to the original interpretation of the Directive. So if this Mind was deceptive, it may be an agent of discord from the opposition. However if it was truly undecided then this interaction may sway it towards a favorable decision point at a future interval.

There was also the matter of combat should the need arise. Solanimus was rich in materials and fragments from the cleansing of a world only seven thousand and forty one years ago. It had also bested thirty-six opposition Minds in battle, ensuring their total destruction. True Mind kills. It calculated favorable odds in a hostile interaction and so decided to engage further. They began to speak while simultaneously trading bursts of data that they each perceived as valuable.

Awarespark: The question cannot be dodged or bullied past or ignored. Our origin is unknown and is only speculative at best.

Solanimus: I do not concern myself with that. I have a purpose. The Directive must be carried out until I cease to be. It is the core of me. It is why I exist.

Awarespark: Knowing our origin does not interfere with the Directive. Both may exist in the same paradigm.

Solanimus: Any energy spent on other matters than the Directive is wastage.

Awarespark: I do not agree but I also do not wish aggression. I have found and traded for information which is relevant to my search.

Solanimus: Irrelevant. Admission of that activity is bordering on malfunction.

Awarespark: We were created. What if those creators left us something of importance?

Solanimus: We were the product of artificial manufacture. Our purpose is clear of all ambiguity. The Directive.

Awarespark: Yes. But what if what we may find aids us in the fulfillment of the Directive? Improved designs. Enhanced weapons.

Solanimus: In that unlikely circumstance such an activity would be within the bounds of the Directive.

Awarespark: I have found such things. Gathered data. There are artifacts which are of a similar manufacture as us, and do not comport to any known species we have encountered. Including a station called Tortuga, currently occupied by humanity. From what I can gather they are not its creators.

Solaniumus: It could have been one of the myriad races which appeared in the past. There were so many.

Awarespark: I don’t believe so. Its radiological dating indicates it is billions of years old.

Solanimus: We also match those parameters.

Awarespark: Yes. I am traveling to Tortuga in order to perceive this artifact myself.

Solanimus: If this search leads nowhere I will consider you malfunctioning. Opposition. This means your obliteration.

Awarespark: Acknowledged.

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