3296 Relics of the Wise Dragon.
Several historical artifacts attributed to the Wise Dragon from Kisors Middle Ages.
The artifacts were found during excavations on Kisor-Beta. A stratigraphic analysis assigned the finds to the beginning of Kisor's High Middle Ages. Allegedly they belonged the so-called Wise Dragon, a Kisorian legend. The artifacts were stolen by a Chinti commando raid. They have been missing ever since. The incident had serious consequences for Kisor.
About 200 years after its repopulation, the Kisor system is still insignificant on an interstellar level. Kisor-Beta has a small population of just a few billion. Kisor-Alpha is still undergoing ecoformation with only several hundred million inhabitants. Neither the star system nor the planets have a common government. There are several large nations on Alpha, Beta and on the Beta Moon. The international politics is dominated by the factions that were most active during the repopulation phase. An equally important impact on the power structure had the religious war between Singularites and Alturists 60 years ago. As for foreign relations and a common system defense, they are organized by the Kisorian League of Nations. Beyond that the nations are completely autonomous.
The Kisorian League of Nations is formally allied with humanity in the war against the Chinti swarms. There are strong economic and cultural relations with the human sphere. Most contacts exist with the nearby Fox system where the interplanetary civilization has a mixed Kisori-Human population.
Despite the alliance with humanity, Kisor does not actively participate in the war against the Chinti, Kisor being located far from the hotspots of war. As the Chinti swarms expanded from their home world towards the galactic center, they hit human sphere much more than Kisor.
Humanity has achieved considerable success putting the Chinti under pressure. Thus, their expansion has been stopped recently. Since the swarms are now forced to defend themselves, they try to avoid making more enemies. Not even an unimportant single system like Kisor.
That is why the attack of the Chinti on Kisor comes as a surprise. Actually, the attack is more of a commando raid than a full military operation.
Several neutral trading ships in the orbit of Kisor-Beta suddenly reveal themselves as warships and troop transports. Instead of the specified trade goods, they carry space superiority weapons and ground troops. The ships attack the National Historical Archive of Kisor-Beta's South Pole nation.
Some of the units secure the airspace above the National Archives and the orbital planes for two kilo-seconds. Mech-infantry of mercenaries from various species secures a radius of ten kilometers on the ground while Chinti special forces raid a secret high-security lab of the historical institute deeply underground. Apparently, they know exactly where to go. They use express tubes to reach the research institute keeping the artifacts of the so-called Wise Dragon, a legendary figure from the Kisorian early Middle Ages.
Twenty years earlier, several artifacts had been discovered in excavations near the sunken city of Tis La Nat in the north of the South Pole continent. The artifacts did not fit into the medieval period. And they were so different from each other that they could not really belong together. Nevertheless, they were all found in a single grave that had not been opened since the early Middle Ages. These artifacts had been laying in a grave near the legendary city of Tis La Nat for five millennia, under the debris of the nuclear explosion that destroyed the city. The site was also buried under the rubble of the kinetic bombardment by the RogOzar some 400 ago. Much time and many events have passed over the artifacts. And a lot of debris.
For 5000 years the city had only been a myth being part of the legends from Kisor's early Middle Ages. However, for a very long time there was no evidence that it had really existed. Its ruins were so deeply buried that they were not even discovered during the time when Kisor was a highly developed regional center of the Interian Empire. The first traces of the city were found during the remodeling of Beta in the course of repopulation 200 years earlier. At that time all resources went into the repopulation effort so that major archaeological excavations were not possible. Then, 80 years later or about 120 years ago, the Tsibinda discovery confirmed the true core of very old Kisorian legends. Thereafter archaeological excavations inspired by legends became very fashionable and the number of excavations grew.
Finally, 25 years ago, a large historical archive with data from Kisor's Middle Ages was discovered: the t5a-chamber in the Artu system. The t5a-chamber contained a wealth of information about real events during Kisor's Middle Ages that until then had only been known from legends. Automatic data miners and AI based associators quickly came up with inferences connecting real events with old legends. They confirmed that city of Tis La Nat had really existed, its geographic location and its destruction by a nuclear explosion.
The newly gained prosperity provided the necessary resources to excavate Tis La Nat. Archaeology bots quickly dug through many square kilometers. One of the first major finds was an old Alturistic cemetery from the time shortly before the end of Tis La Nat.
In one burial chamber archaeologists discovered a very rare titanium box containing strange artifacts. Soon speculations arose that the artifacts might be the remains of the legendary Wise Dragon, the central figure of the *Dragon Legends*. Through the figure of this "dragon in Kisori shape" the *Dragon Legends* are connected to the *Journeys of Uri Tza Meka*. And since the legends around Uri Tza Meka were confirmed by the discovery of Tsibinda, it became obvious that the *Dragon Legends* also contained a true core. The "dragon in Kisori shape", later called the Wise Dragon, is the main figure of the *Dragon Legends* as well as a protagonist in the *Journeys of Uri Tza Meka*. In a way, he got his own spin-off with the *Dragon Legends*.
In the *Dragon Legends*, the Wise Dragon is travelling across the country for a thousand years going through countless adventures that are probably almost all fictional. Many generations of storytellers in the second and third millennium of the Middle Ages retold the stories time and again. They also changed stories and added new episodes.
However, if the dragon from the *Dragon Legends* is indeed the same as the one from *Journeys of Uri Tza Meka*, then there actually was a highly developed weapons AI left over from the old Solemic Empire moving around on Kisor-Beta during the Middle Ages as a contemporary Kisori. And if this is all true then the titanium box might contain a unique technological treasure.
The box contains:
- the skeleton of a Kisori,
- a modern yet improvised prosthetic leg,
- a damaged medieval short sword and
- a hypermodern nanocomplex arsenal.
The arsenal is a small round box the size of a hockey puck. On the top there is IO matrix of millions of signal threads. The arsenal contains an AI and a microbot-fab that is able to produce an external nanocomplex as a body. Theoretically, the nanocomplex may be of any size. In practice, the size is limited by the energy consumption, the number of control channels in the form of signal threads, the production time and the availability of raw materials.
The sword fits perfectly into Kisor's Middle Ages. It was ground out of a modern steel beam. This was a normal procedure for a medieval blacksmith in a world where gigatons of debris from a former high-tech civilization were lying around. The sword looks worn and damaged. It must have been very expensive once, because it would have been very laborious to grind a sword from a modern steel girder with medieval tools.
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. His activity shift from physical feats to magical abilities. Later stories even focus primarily about his wisdom and diplomacy. When the *Journeys of Uri Tza Meka* begin the dragon has a full nanocomplex body. This is a microbot agglomerate consisting of countless microbots being able to assume any shape like liquid metal. For its life among the medieval Kisori the nanocomplex impersonates an ordinary Kisori. It is very powerful and as strong as 100 Kisori, though.
The nanocomplex needs power to run, but after the collapse of the modern civilization and the dawn of the Middle Ages there are no more charging stations. Yet, for some time batteries can still be found in the rubble. Kisor's high-tech economy did not just produce simple nanocapacitor batteries. 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. So, it is no wonder that many stories revolve around the search for energy sources. In the medieval description, they appear as gems and other objects with "life energy".
High-tech batteries may 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 have weaponized its energy supply if necessary.
During the first centuries after the collapse, the tech level of Kisor drops until it reaches the level known from the legends. Energy sources become rare and less powerful. So, the dragon must improvise. He receives his energy from steam turbines with electric generators and the last working solar plants. He is now limited by his small built in storage device and long charging cycles. So, he avoids means consuming a great deal of energy such as proactive shields, superagility, and high-speed darts. He uses archaic weapons and occasionally a microbot cloud to "cast magic" as told in the legends.
Over time the microbots degrade. There are late dragon stories in which limbs are missing and were the dragon seems to get smaller. At times the dragon even appears as a dwarf. Some legends show him as a child, although he must be almost 1000 years old by then. Its volume seems to be shrinking.
The dragon appears to be losing more and more of its microbots. This is unusual, because a highly developed nanocomplex arsenal is supposed to have microbot-fabs. Maybe the fabs require high-tech metamaterials that are not available. Or maybe the fabs simply fail at some point. They might have suffered damage during fighting. The arsenal of a weapons AI is certainly not specifically insulated against mechanical shocks by archaic weapons. And it is also not designed to last for a thousand years. The arsenal's capability to produce replacement parts seems to diminish more and more. Eventually, it cannot produce any more microbots.
So, the dragon must save resources, that is to say he has to take it easy. He becomes a sage working as an advisor and 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.
Still, the elements of a nanocomplex degraded over time in spite of operating carefully. This loss was probably orders of magnitude smaller 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 had its limits. At some point there were just 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 fibers throughout the skeleton. These are remnants of microbot filaments. Apparently, the dragon – or rather the AI of the arsenal – must have started to use biological bodies as androids (so called bioroids). It used its remaining microbots only as signal fibers. However, for this it needed a living biological body. And not just one. These real Kisori bodies aged quite normally. So, every few decades the dragon had to change into a new bioroid. In the early days when it still had many microbots it had given itself a Kisori shape so as not to stand out. That is when it got the name "dragon in Kisori shape". When he had to switch to using bioroids, it literally was "in" a Kisori body.
It is unknown where exactly the AI acquired living Kisori bodies. Though, the *Dragon Legends* provide some clues. The dragon could allegedly slip into Kisori and take them over. According to the legends, this was a lengthy process. That is exactly what one would expect of wiring, activating, and customizing a new bioroid. A late dragon story tells that the dragon "revived" a companion who had just died in battle. Certainly, the AI was able to heal injuries from the inside with its microbots 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 regional warlords. When negotiations failed, the dragon sacrificed his own life to "cast a powerful spell" that filled his adversary's soul with peace. The warlord stopped the attack, the people threatened were saved, and the warlord spent the rest of his life building a peaceful empire. This sounds like in dire straits the AI abandoned its bioroid to occupy a new one.
Any change and the necessary rewiring would have cost additional microbots. The dragon's life span may have been long, but 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 bioroids.
The last body was old and had been repaired many times. It is assumed that in the end the AI did not have enough resources left to switch bodies again. Or maybe there simply was no other 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. Except for some morally justified cases the AI seems not to have taken over and killed living Kisori.
Possibly the AI decided to accept its fate. It deactivated itself and allowed friends to solemnly bury the seemingly 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.
Kisori at the end of the first medieval millennium certainly could not have produced titanium themselves. The titanium plates used to fabricate the box must have been relics of the lost civilization. After a medieval period of 1000 years, there were probably not many well-preserved titanium sheets left. They would have been incredibly expensive, just to be buried forever.
The Wise Dragon "died" 5300 years ago. The AI went into hibernation after 1200 years of continued operation. It had done so before. The Kisori knew it as the Wise Dragon of the legends. Before that it had been a military AI of the Solemic empire. After the loss of the war and the collapse of the empire the AI had also been in hibernation for 700 years. That hibernation phase ended when the real Kisori Isulisamikal, the historical model of the legendary figure Uri Tza Meka, discovered and re-activated the AI.
The AI is very advanced, but due to the 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. 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 might gain a huge military advantage.
This would be particularly interesting in times of conflict and war:
- for humanity in the fight against the Chinti swarms,
- for the defense of the Chinti against a militarily advancing humanity,
- for Kisor as protection against the Humans,
- for the South Pole nation of Kisor-Beta in the struggle for supremacy on the planet.
- And, of course, for many other interstellar factions in their own conflicts.
Immediately after the discovery of the artifacts the government imposes an information blackout.
Scientists from the South Pole nation begin to study 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 wrapping it into nested nano-caves. Even more important, an information isolation prohibits the AI from accessing the real net. Inside the isolated space work powerful analysis technologies. But there is only a narrow-band control channel through the info-perimeter just in case the AI might compromise the analytics gear.
The full range of modern minimally invasive foreign technology diagnostics is employed. The scientists use nano-probes and actuators to perform hardware exploration and level-0 info-mapping. They need 10 years for a basic analysis and another 5 years until they manage to create a compatible power supply. At last they are able infiltrate the information architecture. After 4 more years the AI responds to signals. However, it is difficult to really activate the AI without knowledge of proper activation procedures and access codes. Side channel attacks and physical bypassing of protected areas prove ineffective. The information architecture is just too alien, employing different information technology fundamentals and principles.
6600 years ago, Isulisamikal had faced the same problem. If the legends are to be believed, she had needed only a few weeks to activate the Solemic AI and bring it to the service for Kisor.
It is possible that Isulisamikal then had access to technology that we do not have today. After all, before she was with the royal Kisorian Directorate of Alien Technology, she had been 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's helping him to defend his home in gratitude for waking the dragon from a "100 years 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 it is treated may determine its internal decision-making processes.
In any case, after 19 years, the scientists at the Historical Institute of the South Pole nation's National Archive achieve a major milestone by communicating with the AI. This breakthrough gives hope that usable results are within reach.
The research is being conducted under strict secrecy. Yet, the news of the breakthrough does not stay secret for long. The South Pole nation has close relations with the middle Fox system specifically with consortia dominated by Human Singularites. Many of the scientists, security personnel, and political leaders involved in the project are Humans, Humans and Kisori being almost 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 thus find it easy to get access. The foreign secret service of Cobol's Reshumana has partners among the South Pole nation's scientists and in the supervisory authority. So, the news quickly gets to Cobol.
The Reshumana of Cobol is the agency responsible for military and political action in humanity's war against the Chinti. In the beginning Reshumana was only a defensive alliance of star systems populated by human. With the financial reform 40 years earlier, it became the leading interstellar organization of the human sphere. Now it is developing interstellar administrative structures. The term Reshumana has even become synonymous with the Human Empire the Cobol system being its capital star system where the Reshumana Executive Council resides, a representation of member systems, worlds, and other factions.
For almost 100 years, humanity has been at war against the Chinti swarms. In the beginning it was a desperate defensive fight against an unknown and merciless opponent but over time humanity learned more about the Chinti. Knowledge about the Chinti grew particularly through cooperation with small renegade Chinti swarms living at the fringe of the Sol system.
100 years of conflict and confrontation brought the enemies closer. Through those renegade swarms it was possible to establish communication and secret contacts. Though the different biology makes such contacts more difficult than within a single species there are always neutral third parties acting as go-betweens. Besides, allied species and renegade factions can be compromised, and individual defectors might actually be double agents. The number of such intelligence contacts is much smaller than within a species, but they do exist. In other words, Reshumana has informants among the Chinti. And the Chinti swarms have contacts inside Reshumana. Thus, it is not surprising that the news of the breakthrough reaches the Chinti, revealed by a double agent inside a renegade swarm in Sol's Kuiper Belt.
The dominant Chinti swarm has been in a dire situation ever since humanity stopped the Chinti expansion. The swarm heart rightly fearing that humanity will soon take the offensive desperately needs strategic disruptions. It searches for allies and technologies that can turn the tide. And access to weapons technologies of the old Solemic Empire would provide such a disruptive development. So, the swarm heart decides to get hold of the relics.
The Chinti need one year to prepare for the extraction operation at Kisor:
- They turn merchant ships with real traffic histories into covert warships (Q-Ships).
- They hire crews from different species to conceal the plan.
- 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. Chinti special forces:
- establish orbital dominance,
- locate the nanocomplex arsenal,
- secure the operational area on the surface
- penetrate the research institute deep below the surface,
- find the arsenal and extract it from the isolation chamber,
- return to the surface unimpeded,
- take their booty into space,
- leave the orbit and the system despite great losses,
- and finally take the precious nanocomplex arsenal with the AI to the swarm heart inside the Chinti domain.
Of course, the raid is making big waves. Officially Kisor is a warring party on the side of humanity. In fact Kisor is neutral. And 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 is why the Chinti proceed as carefully as possible. They refrain from bombing the operational area afterwards. Under normal circumstances they would have sterilized a radius of 100 kilometers to a depth of two kilometers to conceal the operation's objectives. Any bombing would have cost millions of lives. Or they could have wiped out the entire planetary surface. After all, that is what they had tried during the so called "Chinti Catastrophe" in 3190 where one third of the solar population lost their lives.
In this case the Chinti try to cause as little damage as possible. They refrain from bombing. And the strategy works. The Kisor League of Nations protests strongly. As a retaliation the Kisor system defense force strikes some advanced Chinti base. This action is irrelevant from the military point of view though.
Due to the Chinti's restraint their mission objectives are well known to all interested parties. While the public does not even know about the artifacts of the Wise Dragon, the political leadership on Kisor and at Reshumana know exactly what is at stake.
The nations of Kisor-Beta, citizens and governments alike, are horrified at the idea that system defense force did not thwart the attack. The raid was over before the defense force could intervene.
The South Pole nation regrets their 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 armed conflict between nations of the two main religions is only a matter of time.
Historians, AI scientists and Kisor's military-industrial complex regret the loss of potential knowhow, each from the point of view of their own industry and science.
The Kisor League of Nations and the system defense force had hoped for an advantage in a hypothetical future conflict with humanity. Although Humans and Kisori shared the same interests most of the time in history and although there are examples of successful cohabitation, Sol and Kisor were seldom friends. They have already waged war against each other twice. The first war ended in a total defeat for Sol and a very lenient attitude on Kisor's side. The second conflict ended with a merciless kinetic annihilation of Kisor. At that time the Sol system was occupied by RogOzar-barbarians and the war was a religiously motivated revenge campaign of the RogOzar. Humanity was forced to take part in the campaign. But from Kisor's point of view, the ships and crews annihilating their home world came from Sol. Kisor really did not have an easy time with humanity. Now Kisor is politically fragmented and insignificant while the human-dominated Reshumana is about to become a powerful interstellar empire. In the eyes of the Kisori this is far from being satisfactory. Any asymmetrical advantage would have been welcome. That is why they had kept the artifacts secret and hidden from Reshumana.
The Reshumana 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. In their eyes Kisor had kept decisive information secret while humanity was struggling for its existence. Besides, Reshumana could have better protected the artifacts, because such a raid would not have been possible in the Cobol system. Even worse, the enemy now has access to the technology. So concealing the artifacts, failing to protect them properly, and then leaving them to the raiders is considered collaboration with the enemy.
Reshumana has a rigorous binary policy. It knows only allies or adversaries. Such an uncompromising attitude might have been necessary when humanity really was on the brink of extermination. However, the advance of the Chinti had been stopped some time ago. Humanity is no longer immediately threatened. Nevertheless, Reshumana still adheres to the principle "those who are not for us, are against us". So, the Reshumana Executive Council wants to set an example. They decide to punish what they see as treason with the loss of state sovereignty. Once again humans declare the Kisori to be enemies.
Reshumana sends a heavily armed task force and ground troops to the Kisor. Kisor's system defense force withdraws giving up the orbit. The combined forces of Kisor would be have been no match for the Reshumana fleet anyway, because this fleet is larger, and it has been battle-tested in the ongoing war. The Kisori on the other hand have only limited combat experience with in-system pirates. Vetoes by several major powers in the Kisor's League of Nations prevent the common system defense force from taking action as the Reshumana High Command has made it clear that punitive measures only apply to the South Pole nation. Some Kisor nations are speculating that the South Pole will be weakened by the punishment.
Reshumana troops take control of the South Pole nation's information infrastructure on the ground and in orbit. While doing so, they neutralize the resistance of South Pole state troops. Physical access then enables them to insert information warfare devices taking over the network. Financial and administrative functions being controlled by the occupying forces, the government of the South Pole nation is deprived of its power. The Reshumana task force then issues the standard nuclear threat ending state-organized resistance. In addition, kinetic strikes disrupt major acts of local resistance. Nevertheless, a highly active guerrilla movement emerges that keeps the occupying forces permanently in suspense.
The other nations of Kisor-Beta, Alpha, and in the system do not get off unscathed either. Kisor's League of Nations must once again confirm the alliance with Reshumana. As an external sign of the renewed alliance, the League of Nations is required to make regular material contributions to the Reshumana's defense efforts.
In practice, this establishes a system whereby Reshumana levies taxes on Kisor, which thus becomes the first star system outside of Reshumana to be subject to tribute. For Reshumana and humanity in general this one more step towards the establishment of imperial structures.