2495 The Meme Virus Conspiracy.
A nuclear explosion of 200 kilotons destroys Jamaliya, a city of millions in Dravida Nadu, southern India. 800,000 people are killed, three million are injured and 15 million are left homeless. The profile of the explosion suggests an antimatter reaction. The official investigation suspects the cause is an illegal Amat reactor in a suburb near the Tiruvathevan Engineering College. The true circumstances don't come to light until 100 years later.
The antimatter detonation was actually caused by an illegal reactor, but not, as assumed, by a technical error. It was rather deliberately triggered as part of a secret operation on Earth. The explosion was intended to cover up another crime.
The operation "Eryu" (= whispering) was carried out by the Solar Coalition's intelligence agency represented by Dianfu Fuwu (= recapture), the subversion unit of Xinyu Xin Duohui tasked with reclaiming the earth as part of the intelligence agency of Xinyu Xin, a lunar mega sovereignty. Dianfu Fuwu experimented in Jamaliya with a meme virus. For this purpose, a designer virus was released that was to change opinions and beliefs of the infected. Dianfu Fuwu had developed the virus in a lab lunar orbit with the aim of making the planetary population more receptive to expansionist propaganda. The virus crosses the blood-brain barrier and manipulates neural processing by releasing hormones and directly activating neurons. However, the selection of suitable neural areas proved difficult. There were already extensive methods of viral depression therapy available, but the intended targeted manipulation of subconscious ideas was a new quality. Tests during the development showed a success rate of 30% for the installation of a liberal, expansionist thinking with few side effects. This was considered sufficient.
The virus was meant to spread very slowly with any disease symptoms in order to deceive public health control. But Dianfu Fuwu failed to consider the ritual bath in the Ambuli River at the water festival, were a great many viruses got into the water quickly infecting the population of several quarters through the local water supply. At the same time, a side effect emerged that eliminated inhibitions and morals among a small number of the infected. Jamaliya was hit by an inexplicable wave of violence overnight. The infection also seemed to spread much faster than expected in the sterile environment in lunar orbit.
Those in charge at Dianfu Fuwu feared that the health authorities would very quickly discover the cause of the wave of violence and that the earth would react drastically to such a subversive attack of its sovereignty. Therefore, without consulting their political leaders, they ordered a field agent to blow up one of the many illegal Amat reactors in the outskirts of the city. The explosion wipes out southern Jamaliya.
The Jamaliya conspiracy later comes to light through the disclosure of several thousand documents from the "Eryu" operation by an insider at Dianfu Fuwu. It is a testament to the extent of the Solar Coalition's covert operations on Earth during Earth's isolation, a clear violation of official policy and the Quadrupol agreements.
2526 Hero of the Federation.
Przemyslaw Hrycyszyn is the first child born outside of the Sol system. He is the first of 59 children born on Cobol during the first colonization attempt. Having survived the "Tragedy of Cobol" at the age of eight he enters the Sol system on a rescue ship.
At the age of 37, Hrycyszyn returns to Cobol. There he works as biosphere scout for the terraforming project. Before many others he realizes that the original biosphere of Cobol is threatened by the spread of human settlements. Hrycyszyn advocates for the creation of large nature reserves. As a leading preservationist he must repeatedly confront aggressive opponents, who call him an enemy of progress.
Hrycyszyn goes into politics. He plays a major role in passing the Hrycyszyn-Yijieyjiee Law of 2618 that closes the Papua continent to human settlements.
At the age of 85, Hrycyszyn becomes Governor of Nowylwiw. He keeps the office for 30 years. It is a time of great changes. The population is growing from one million settlers living in biosphere enclaves spread over an entire planet to over 30 million inhabitants of open cities. Small settlements become metropolises. Many initially self-sufficient communities now take part in an interconnected economy. At the same time a lively interplanetary civilization develops in Cobol's orbit.
The Papua continent remains largely protected. But the rapid growth of the population keeps triggering conflicts that call the Papua Nature Reserve into question.
During Hrycyszyn's terms in office the politics are also changing. Initially there were hundreds of independent territories established by many different groups. Cobol has the whole range of human bios, from Sol-drop-outs with paleo-DNA to modern gene templates forming the largest part in the Sol system, to extravagant gene mods that flee to Cobol to escape persecutions on Earth. From the very beginning, Cobol has been as politically fragmented as the Earth, ethnically even more so.
Hrycyszyn advocates for the unification of all territories into a political union. In 2640, 89 years after the founding of the second colony most planetary territories and orbital habitats merge into the Cobol Federation. Hrycyszyn assumes office as Federal Commissioner for Infrastructure.
Only three years later neo-barbarians invade the Cobol system. In the short time between the first contact and the beginning of the occupation Hrycyszyn makes sure that important resources and autofabs are brought to safety.
At the age of 118 he joins the resistance. Then Hrycyszyn fights the occupying forces as a scout, a sniper, and a guerilla commander for 14 years. In 2656, just one year before the end of the occupation Hrycyszyn is killed in a guerrilla action at the age of 131.
On his 137th birthday Hrycyszyn is posthumously honored by the Federation Parliament as the "Child of Cobol and Hero of the Federation".
His birthday falls on a national holiday, the Liberation Day, which since is called Przemek's Day (short of Przemyslaw).
2532 The Outer System Wipe.
The interplanetary public is slowly becoming aware that humans are now trading with aliens. Every month a long-distance spaceship returns loaded with coveted high technology. Spaceships capable of interstellar travel are still very expensive, but in the Sol system, the prices for Dilan technology are so high that flights over several months are worth it.
Dilan equipment is far superior to solar technology and therefore highly valuable. Human traders get for example:
- precisely assembled components for FTL engines,
- high resolution fabs,
- compact energy systems, generators and storage,
- superior sensors,
- nanostructured metamaterials for autofabs.
The Dilan creatures do not seem to regard these goods as particularly valuable. They do not trade with humans for profit. They are satisfied with exchanging raw materials for technology as long as they increase their stock, completely disregarding the value such technology poses for their trading partners.
The human trading post at Dilan never got beyond the exchange of raw materials for technical devices developed by Kelonikoa Pono. There is no communication apart from this simple form of trade. The humans would like to have additional information, such as blueprints, fab designs, and engineering instructions. They are also interested in cultural exchange. Humanity would like to learn more about to civilization of Dilan, their ideas, views, motives, and their culture. But nobody even knows how to ask the Dilan creatures about these it. There is no means of communication. It is not even known if they have language. The civilization remains foreign and incomprehensible.
Even so, it is economically interesting because even simple trade exchanges generate good profits. Some humans wonder if Dilan might not offer more potential. There is a great number of devices that the Dilan creatures do not want to give away. This arouses the suspicion that they let humans have what – from their point of view – only represents low technology.
Having almost unhindered access to the interior of the dwarf planet, humans came across all kinds of technology. From time to time crews of human's trade spaceships have tried to dismantle interesting equipment in order to make use of it themselves. But they are always gently prevented from doing so by a large number of Dilan creatures pushing them away. Many small black bodies hold on to each other with their eight legs forming impenetrable walls. So far, no violence has been used by either side. Any violent behavior would be futile anyway, because a total 20 humans on Dilan in the trading post are facing more than 100 billion Dilan creatures, let alone their superior technology.
Things change with the arrival of the Tian Liyang. The ship belongs to the Ares cartel, a security company in the Jupiter system. Their mission is to acquire more and better high-tech than the normal visits. The ship is specially equipped for this task. It is unusually large, and it has a crew of 20 as opposed to the five people of other far-traders. Ten of them are special forces with vacuum-capable combat equipment, model Kolozz-4k. Each of these active suits is in itself a kind of heavily armed short-range miniature spaceship. The Tian Liyang also transports four Berserker-class attack drones with accelerated upload crews and nuclear weapon packages. Thus, the Tian Liyang can be regarded as the first interstellar carrier of humanity.
After a flight of 18 months, the Tian Liyang appears in the planetary system of Ross 614 and heading for Dilan. Soon, the crew provoke a serious incident attempting to dismantle a field screen generator against the resistance of the Dilan creatures.
A two-man task force enters a large access tunnel harbouring the field screen generator. They enclose the generator by a transparent wall of autonomous barrier modules and deploy a crowd control drone swarm outside the wall. Then they start dismantling the device inside the barrier. The Dilan creatures, wanting to prevent this act of aggression, try to penetrate the barrier. Before they can reach it, they are attacked by the drones. Then more and more Dilan creatures appear. Many of whom are injured or killed sacrificing themselves in order to disable drones.
The first Dilan creatures reach the barrier. Realizing that they will not be able to penetrate it with their bodies, they finally resort to using technology. A cloud of microbots flows through gaps between barrier modules. Then lasers cut through the barrier walls. The first Dilan creatures slip through trying to cling themselves on to the space suits of the task force. Initially the humans are able to shake them off with the full force of their powered battle suits. Dilan creatures are now flooding the tunnel with bodies while the task force is trying to continue the deconstruction work. The two humans are now defended by situation-aware semi-automatic guns of their suits that are tuned to Dilan creatures and search their targets autonomously.
In the meantime, pioneer microbots have been working their way through the armor of the battle suits for several minutes. They dig through many layers until they reach the suit's control network paving the way for effector microbots. These electromagnetic effector elements are connected to external infiltrator AIs via molecular capillaries. They analyze the information processing of the combat suits thereby undermining the suits' information defenses by creating their own hardware interfaces. The effectors feed signals generated by the infiltrator AIs into the control network. They invoke the combat suits' shutdown procedures causing the suits to fail. The two humans and their equipment are swept away by a flood of Dilan creatures. Then they disappear into the depths the asteroid.
Ambassador Kelonikoa Pono protests on behalf of the Solar Coalition against the action of the Tian Liyang. She also tries to communicate with the Dilan creatures to ask for the whereabouts of the two missing humans. However, it has long been suspected that the Dilan creatures have no concept of individuality. Pono does not even know how to ask about the two specific crew members. Thus, her inquiries do not lead to any result.
The Tian Liyang now leaves Dilan on a trajectory to the next gas giant. On its moons the Dilan creatures operate automatic resource extraction facilities. It is assumed that these plants are self-sufficient, that they can replicate and repair themselves and that they operate as efficiently as everything from Dilan.
After 20 days the Tian Liyang reaches one of the small irregular moons of the gas giant. The four Berserker attack drones detach from the carrier and take up positions two staying in orbit to protect their carrier and two others approaching a resource extraction facility on the moon. A shuttle lands at the facility with two technicians and two guards in Kolozz suits. When the technicians begin to analyze the facility, they can soon identify specific subsystems such as the energy supply, the resource extraction, and several fab-material production lines. Then they disconnect the energy supply and start to dismantle the facility.
A few days later several missiles are approaching the moon on a maximum delta-V course. The missiles are cuboids with a base of 5x5 meters and 20 meters long. The cuboids are completely black in the optical frequency range. Even with radar they are almost invisible. Only the propulsion system radiates in the infrared, but not in the direction of the Tian Liyang. Obviously, the Dilan creatures have mastered directional cooling for stealth purposes. An analysis of the trajectory will later show that the missiles launched at the exact moment when the light lagged signal from the shutdown of the extraction plant reached Dilan.
At a distance of 10,000 kilometers from the resource extraction moon and from the Tian Liyang, the cuboids launch thousands of ammunition packages each. The daughter ammunition quickly spreads around the mini-moon. Some packages go into a wide orbit. Several hundred are positioned close to the Tian Liyang. Thousands drop to moon's surface. They cover the whole area around the extraction plant with a conventional but highly effective bomb-carpet wiping out the facility, the shuttle, the two Berserkers and four humans.
The ammunition packages that have surrounded the Tian Liyang commence firing at the two remaining Berserkers. For this purpose, several packages combine to form linear accelerators. They fire small darts of an ultra-dense material, possibly a state of matter with reduced electron orbitals unknown to humans. At a speed of 30 kilometers per second, these darts have a kinetic energy of one megajoules, as much as a stick of dynamite. Even the armor of Berserker drones cannot withstand such a firestorm for long.
The Berserkers react quickly:
- 1.2 seconds after the first impacts, they turn to move their close-range weapons towards the closest attacker.
- 1.3 seconds: while still turning, defensive missiles launch trying to hit some of the enemy ammunition packages. These missiles are about the same size as the ammunition packages, but not as agile. Only few score a hit.
- 1.5 seconds: the ceramic pellet storm accelerators now aimed at their targets start firing.
- 3 seconds: the Berserkers discuss the situation and decide to eliminate larger groups of enemies with antimatter (AM) explosions.
- 3.5 seconds: the first missile with AM-warhead is launched.
- 4 seconds: the ammunition packages change priorities using some of their firepower to intercept the AM-missiles.
- 5 seconds: an AM-missile gets through destroying one-tenth of the enemy.
- 6 seconds: the ammunition packages reprioritize their targeting concentrating all firepower to intercept AM-missiles. None gets through anymore. Meanwhile, the Berserkers use the time to take out more enemies with their ceramic pellets. The strategy of keeping the ammunition packages busy with AM-missiles proves successful.
- 9 seconds: the ammunition packages comprehend the Berserkers' stalling tactics. Some start to accelerate for a kinetic kill.
- 10 seconds: unfortunately, Berserkers carry only four AM-missiles. After these are used up, the ammunition packages switch back to attacking the Berserkers.
- 12 seconds: the Berserkers are rendered inoperable by the darts.
- 14 seconds: the first of the ammunition packages launched for the kinetic kill hits one of the defunct Berserkers.
- 14.1 seconds: the self-destruct mechanism of a Berserker, a two kiloton AM-charge, is triggered by the shock waves.
- 16 seconds: the final kinetic kills arrive. End of battle.
The Tian Liyang is not damaged.
Besides the Tian Liyang there are other human trade ships in the Dilan system. The Hermes II is just entering the system coming from Sol still being 200 million kilometers from Dilan. After the defeat of the Tian Liyang, the Hermes II changes its course. It decelerates to enter a solar orbit 150 million kilometers from Dilan. The Hermes II launches long-range missiles of type Anaconda with nuclear cluster munitions. The missiles fly to moons of the innermost gas giant and to asteroids. They are controlled by AI to allow them to act independently despite interplanetary distances. The missiles are supposed to hide on or near celestial bodies of the system and wait for an activation signal.
Two weeks later, the Hermes II starts sending a message to Dilan. It permanently repeats a graphics animation as a warning to the Dilan creatures. The animation shows the destructive potential of its long-range missiles. Obviously, the Hermes II is there to support the Tian Liyang. It is actually a real interstellar trader with a long history of voyages to Dilan. But now she flies on behalf of the Ares cartel.
Then another solar trading ship appears on the far side of the star heading for one of the outer ice giants. This is very unusual, because there is only one reasonable route for solar long-distance traders: the direct route from Sol to Dilan. It is suspected that this is even more preparation by the Ares cartel.
Most of the deployed Anaconda missiles choose small celestial bodies, irregular moons, comets, and asymmetric asteroids for cover. Only one Anaconda is heading for a large moon of the inner gas giant. As soon as its trajectory is obvious, cloaked missiles launch from this moon like they did from Dilan before. At a distance of 300,000 kilometers from its destination the Anaconda is attacked by ammunition packages. The Anaconda notices random occlusions of background stars by some ammunition packages thus detecting the attackers before the first darts hit.
The Anaconda AI, callsign "Birdie", knows the battle of Tian Liyang's Berserkers very well. It also knows that it does not stand much of a chance against the ammunition packages. But it decides to fight the enemies to learn more about their abilities. Moreover, the AI thinks that resistance is appropriate if only for sporting reasons. It uses the weapons at its disposal: nuclear cluster bombs together with their breakthrough aids. Birdie ejects its daughter ammunition and is destroyed shortly afterwards by railgun darts.
Yet, before, Birdie was able to launch 120 nuclear warheads. Each with 1.2 megatons of explosive power and optimized to evade interceptor missiles during the final approach. In addition, there are 30 pods of the same format as the warheads with different types of breakthrough aids, electronic measures, ECM, ECCM, active and passive decoys for different wavelengths, and a phalanx of point-defense lasers designed to neutralize interceptor missiles. Each warhead is also protected by a pellet shield, which unfortunately is ineffective against the darts of the ammunition packages. The surrounding space explodes in a firework of electronic warfare. For a short time all sensors are blinded. At least those which did not expect the action.
Indeed, the ammunition packages are taken aback. They did not expect a counterattack and certainly not so early. Stull, they manage to neutralize most of the warheads by deploying all the weaponry at their disposal: ultra-dense darts, lasers, kinetic kills, proximity kills, interceptor missiles, webs of barrage fire, and EMP pulses. 40 warheads detonate forming a three-dimensional grid of explosions eliminating most of the ammunition packages.
After the experience with the few, rather static Berserkers of the Tian Liyang, the ammunition packages had probably underestimated the capabilities of an Anaconda missile. On the other hand, Birdie's guess about the 3-dimensional distribution of ammunition packages proved to be pretty good. In addition, Birdie had occupied each grid point multiple times in order to take out the enemy despite heavy losses. Technically speaking, Birdie wins. The AI brings a fifth of its warheads into action clearing the way of defenders. A second Anaconda would now get through unchallenged. Birdie does not live to see the victory but its backup on the Hermes II is very proud.
The targeted moon now launches 100 cuboid missiles, just in case the Anaconda would have tried to use the chaos to send a few warheads to the moon. But this is not the case. Birdie had no order to attack.
Both sides learn a lot from this exchange. They see the full range of active and passive measures, countermeasures, and counter-countermeasures. Both have sensor platforms on site as part of the daughter ammunition to report back the findings by comm-laser. The other Anacondas hidden at many of the system's smaller celestial bodies, also receive the tactical update from the Hermes II by laser.
The humans in the system are surprised by the violent reaction to the approach of only one missile to a remote moon. There is a simple reason for this. The asteroid, which the humans call Dilan, is not the only inhabited celestial body. There are other moons and asteroids in the system where Dilan creatures live. All of them are several hundred kilometers big and hollowed out like Dilan. They are home to many billions of Dilan creatures, possibly 100 billion per asteroid. Until now, humans mostly ignored the many other asteroids and moons in the system. They thought that only Dilan was inhabited. It now turns out that the Dilan system has a large interplanetary civilization, with many inhabited bodies and maybe 1,000 billion living creatures. Apparently only the Dilan creatures of the asteroid that humans call Dilan have been dealing with humans. Everyone else kept a low profile disguising their interplanetary traffic and even hiding the waste heat of their civilization from the few human spaceships. Why only the creatures of this particular asteroid revealed themselves to the first human explorers in 2501 is unknown. They seem to be the ones concerned with alien contacts. Humans landed on this asteroid, because it had been noted in a 50.000 years old database of the Kaio-artifact found in 2312. But there was only reference to a single inhabited asteroid. Apparently, the creators of this old database, just like the humans, had been made believe that only one asteroid was inhabited.
However, as it now turns out, basically all large moons and asteroids are populated. One of them is the moon chosen by Birdie. From the perspective of the Dilan creatures living there, the approach of the Anaconda was an attack on their home planet, an attack with weapons of mass destruction. Even worse, 50 megatons exploded in their backyard, just a single light second from their home.
It is now clear to everyone in the system, humans as well as Dilan creatures,
- that the mission of the Ares cartel, is not yet finished,
- that it is not just about stealing some high-tech equipment,
- that the Ares cartel is ready to use weapons of mass destruction,
- that the Ares cartel has a far-reaching plan and is trying to bring Dilan or the whole system under its control,
- that there are probably other warships, disguised as merchants already in the system or still approaching from interstellar space.
In fact, the Dilan creatures are introverted and unobtrusive. They have been living in this system for over 100,000 years, trying everything possible to live in peace undisturbed by other species. They would choose small unattractive suns without habitable planets. They only settle on celestial bodies that are not interesting to anyone else. They do not expand to other solar systems and rarely even travel beyond their own. You cannot ask for more.
Nevertheless, occasionally there have been problems with aggressors over the millennia. Some want to profit from the technical abilities of the Dilan creatures. Others subjugate their neighbors on principle. Some empires feel threatened by such an unknown power within their borders.
So far, the Dilan creatures have been able to deal with all threats. As we have seen, they have the means to defend themselves. Most of the time a mere demonstration of their power is sufficient to discourage aggressors. The battle at the Tian Liyang was intended as such. But the humans apparently did not understand. Birdie's spectacular action then is the decisive factor: humanity constitutes a threat. A trillion Dilan creatures see no reason why they should let themselves be bullied by a few billion humans. So, they decide to tackle the problem at its origin.
Suddenly, black cuboid missiles launch from many asteroids and moons. They position themselves in the orbits of all populated bodies. New waves of launches continue for several days forming a deeply layered defense. Then groups of black cuboids fly to the hiding places of the deployed Anaconda cluster missiles. All Anacondas are detected and neutralized. This does not take long because their positions are known to the Dilan creatures. They always have been, because even though trying to hide, the Anacondas have been tracked by micro-probes at all times. The Hermes II and the other ship near the outer ice planet also get visitors. Both ships are destroyed. Only the Tian Liyang is not attacked. Apparently, a ship without nuclear weapons is not considered a threat.
Every day more cuboids launch. They now leave orbit taking a course across the ecliptic directly to the Sol system. On the way, they are joined by larger units consisting only of engines and tanks. These are carriers, FTL platforms, supposed to take the cuboids to their remote destination. The cuboids attach themselves to the carriers in flight. Fully equipped the carriers are 1200 meters long and 200 meters wide providing space for 30,000 cuboids each.
The coalition's representatives are trying to communicate with the Dilan creatures. But all attempts are futile. There is no reaction.
The first 16 fully loaded carriers have moved far enough from the inner system to activate their FTL drives. The humans do not know which FTL-factor the Dilan creatures can achieve. But if the FTL-drive is as advanced as the rest of their technology, then a flight time of only a few days would be expected. At least four more fleets of 16 carriers are on the way.
Solar Coalition ambassador Pono declares a state of emergency in the Dilan system. She confiscates the only remaining human trade ship in Dilan's orbit, the Einstein from Interstellar Colonial Corporation on Mars. Pono and five members of the trading post take a shuttle to the Einstein and enforce their boarding citing to the ambassador's emergency powers.
Dilan's first fleet arrives in the Sol system after only four days. It heads towards Neptune, which is on the opposite side of the sun. A second fleet arrives a few days later setting course for nearby Uranus. The Sol system, not knowing what happened at Dilan, is completely taken by surprise.
Meanwhile, in the Dilan system, the Einstein is on its way to the inner gas giant. Its captain protests and tries to prevent the flight. In a gun fight one member of the trading post is killed and a crewwoman of the Einstein is injured. The Coalition keeps the upper hand though, disarming the crew and forcing them at gun point to fly the ship to the nearest gas planet where the Tian Liyang is still orbiting.
A third fleet from Dilan arrives in the Sol system setting course for Saturn. The other two fleets are already reaching their target areas: Uranus and Neptune. At a distance of 20 million kilometers from their respective targets, the black cuboids detach, two-thirds continuing to the target and the others staying behind in protection of the carriers.
In the Dilan system the Einstein reaches the inner gas giant. She closes in on the Tian Liyang, which is still in orbit around the small moon. But instead of slowing down the Einstein accelerates. Its course is directly aimed at the Tian Liyang or rather at a point in space where the Tian Liyang and the Einstein will meet if both keep their motion. Then the Einstein's shuttle separates from the ship. Onboard there is almost the entire crew of the Einstein and four employees of the trading post. Only three people remain on the Einstein: the ambassador Kelonikoa Pono, Qingxiao Wang, the trading post's security officer, and Kateb Moknachi, the Einstein's pilot.
The Einstein is on a collision course with the Tian Liyang. When the crew of the Tian Liyang notices this and tries to evade, Moknachi corrects the Einstein's course to stay on target.
Pono has been able to convince the pilot of her plan. She believes that the carriers of the Dilan creatures are attacking the Sol system and there is only one chance to dissuade them from exterminating humanity. She wants to show
- that not all humans are enemies,
- that most humans are decent,
- that only a few black sheep among humans are causing trouble,
- that decent people will take care of the problem
- and that they can actually solve it.
Pono hopes to dissuade the Dilan creatures from attacking the Sol system by proving to them that "good" humans take action against "bad" humans. Therefore, she intends to destroy the Tian Liyang using the Einstein. The accelerated mass of the Einstein is the only effective weapon at her disposal. The trading post has only few small handguns and her crew would be hopelessly outmatched by the special forces of the Tian Liyang in their Kolozz suits. So, boarding the Tian Liyang is out of question. Her only hope is to destroy the other ship in a collision, which also constitutes a much more powerful message to the Dilan creatures.
Pono is afraid, that the Dilan creatures might be just as rigorous in the Sol system as they had been when the Tian Liyang attacked the resource extraction plant. If that was the case, then the existence of humanity would be at stake. Pono assumes that the Dilan creatures intend to eliminate humanity's ability to wage interstellar war, if not humanity at all. This would mean many millions, if not billions of victims. To prevent this, she deems almost any means appropriate and any sacrifice. The small remaining crew on board of the Einstein does not dare to leave the final approach to an autopilot. The three remain on the Einstein to be able to react to unexpected situations in the final phase.
Ten seconds before the collision, the Tian Liyang accelerates out of the moon's orbit at full power. That is a problem for the Einstein trying to hit the other ship. The Einstein now has a relative speed of 80 kilometers per second, but in order to hit the Tian Liyang, the Einstein must apply the same lateral acceleration as the Tian Liyang. Suddenly, the ammunition packages still surrounding the Tian Liyang fire at her propulsion system disabling the engines. Thanks to this intervention, the Einstein now has enough time to adjust her vector. Finally, the ships collide at 50 times the speed of a rifle bullet. They do not hit each other centrally, but the impact energy is still large enough to destroy both ships with all hands.
In the Sol system the black cubes at Neptune and Uranus have already detached their ammunition packages attacking space stations and ground bases. All communication attempts are not ignored.
The Dilan creatures do not use nuclear weapons as a matter of principle. However, they do have highly effective explosives, including metastable metallic hydrogen, thermodynamic quantum condensates, and chemical compounds with ten times the binding energy of the best explosives known to man. Kinetic attacks also reach previously unknown dimensions. Hundreds of ammunition packages link up to form long bidirectional linear accelerators firing darts at over 100 kilometers per second. They fire rapidly delivering the equivalent of 5 kg of TNT per dart to the target. Many ammunition packages release swarms of kamikaze drones with explosives spreading over an area devastating soft targets. For hardened military installations and deeply buried lunar bases on Triton, Proteus (Neptune) and Ariel, Oberon, Sycorax (Uranus), ammunition packages assemble into bunker-busters reaching up to five kilotons of conventional explosive power.
A wave of destruction sweeps across the moon systems of the two ice giants. All orbital and most ground bases, habitats and automatic installations are destroyed. Civil and military targets are not distinguished. Sporadic counterattacks remain ineffective.
Several million people die, almost all of them finally, because the backups are destroyed as well.
The rest of the Sol system cannot help. Even though large telescope arrays can resolve down to a few meters over interplanetary distances, they cannot even see exactly what is happening, because the fighting zones are hidden by grids of view screens. For this purpose, specialized ammunition packages have unfolded monomolecular sheets of 20 square kilometers each, preventing any direct observation.
The third fleet is still on its way to Saturn needing two more weeks. The two fleets at Uranus and Neptune are collecting their ammunition packages to replenish their stocks before setting course for Jupiter and Mars.
Panic breaks out in the Sol system. Many ships leave the planets. However, humanity has only few interstellar ships. So, escape to the stars is not an option. People are fighting for places on civilian liners, on cruise ships, and on military troop transporters. Freighters are hastily converted for passenger transport. They flee into open space. Others try to hide on asteroids and on Kuiper Belt objects. There are clashes with survivalists who have been living there for a long time wanting to remain undiscovered. The upload rate increases dramatically. Backups are brought to safety with microsatellites. Cavities under the surface of moons and asteroids are prepared for refugees, artificial ones created for other purposes before and old natural lava tubes. On icy moons, survival capsules are melted many kilometers deep into the ice mantle probably offering the best protection in the whole system. However, there is no free interplanetary transport capacity available. Instead, ships that could have taken people to the ice moons leave the system with refugees.
A fourth fleet appears in the Sol system splitting up and setting course for several dispersed asteroid clusters, for Jupiter Trojans and the main belt.
The Earth does not react. There the opinion prevails that the situation is a self-made problem of the interplanetary civilization. The bad news is played down by the censorship.
The enemy fleet approaching Saturn slows down to a rendezvous with the Saturn system minus 20 million kilometers. When the fleet reaches its deployment area, the black cuboids do not separate from their carriers. Rather the carriers extend the braking phase building up a vector that leads them back out of the system. The other fleets also change their course. One week later it is clear that the black fleets are leaving the Sol system.
For a long time, the reason for the attack of the black fleets and their sudden withdrawal remains a mystery. Only one and a half years later, when a ship returns from Dilan, humanity learns what had happened. The ship carries a report about the aggression of the Ares cartel, about the desperate mission of the Einstein, and about the sacrifice of the three people on board. It turns out that the black carriers reversed their course only 26 hours after the collision of the two ships in the Dilan system. It took four hours for a laser signal from the inner gas giant in the Dilan system to reach a waiting courier at the edge of the system and another 5 hours for the signal to reach the black carriers once the courier entered the Sol system. That leaves an incredibly short time of only 17 hours for the courier to cover the distance between Dilan and Sol. That means the Dilan creatures master an FTL-factor of almost 7.000, much faster than the carriers at 1200 times the speed of light and worlds apart from the FTL-factor of just 10 achievable by solar vessels.
The Dilan creatures seem to have been watching the actions of the remaining humans at Dilan and they were prepared to react quickly. In the end they even helped the Einstein a bit to achieve her goal by firing at the Tian Liyang's engines. Then they sent a lightning fast courier to call off the attack in the Sol system preventing unnecessary damage. It might even be assumed, that they intentionally left the Tian Liyang untouched after the initial battle in order to give Pono's crew an opportunity to prove their good intentions. We will probably never understand the Dilan creatures. But it might well be, that Kelonikoa Pono's plan actually convinced the Dilan creatures that humanity deserves a second chance.
In any case, they aborted their attack, just in time to save Saturn. The ten million inhabitants of the Saturn system breathed a sigh of relief. So of course did the other 60 million people at Mars, on all the asteroids, in the Venus atmosphere, on Mercury, Luna and in many interplanetary habitats, not to speak of Earth's billions who were not even aware of the menace.
When all this happened, some ships were still en route to Dilan. The first one arrived in time to rescue the shuttle of the Einstein' with the remaining trading post personnel and the Einstein's crew. They all returned to Dilan waiting for ships to carry them back to Sol. Then the Coalition closes the Dilan system to traffic from Sol. The Coalition stations ships with non-nuclear armament at the edge of the Dilan system from which the shortest route to Sol can be controlled.
Trade is suspended for ten years.