In the middle of Orbitarium V, at the top of the observatory, there were a few Oculeen studying the stars to better understand Mirus. One of them was monitoring the surrounding space via radar, and he was about to end his shift when 1 red dot showed up on the monitor.
He shouted: "Guys, come take a look at this!"
Most of the others present immediately flocked to the radar station, and many of them were rather concerned due to its high velocity and the direction it was headed. The red dot became bigger and a small white point was discernible from the outside, soon a small probe with a shining ball on the back came flying and stopped near the edge of Orbitarium V. A pending request for transmission appeared on the screens. The Communications Manager, who was surprisingly present at the time, went over and accepted the request. The others stayed, wondering what was going to happen.
The Probe started speaking: "PURITY PROBE 127502-EA SPEAKING. WE BRING GREETINGS FROM A <Indiscernible broken sounds> SPECIES. WE WOULD LIKE TO MEET YOU BETTER, PLEASE TRANSFER DATA."
"Uhh... transfer data for... what exactly? Please elaborate," the Communications Manager responded.
"SYNONYM OF DATA: GENERAL INFORMATION. WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT YOU. <Indiscernible broken sounds> PURE ENERGY IS NEEDED."
The Communications Manager answered: "I'll see what I can do."
He then booted the computer next to the Terminal and started collecting general information about the Oculeen and Orbitarium V. He was quick, and soon had a data package that he then sent to the Probe.
"THE PURITY THANKS THE OCULEEN. SENDING INFORMATION TO OTHER PROBES... COMPLETED. <Indiscernible broken sounds> PLEASE SEND PURE ENERGY."
"I'm afraid we don't have any 'Pure Energy' in stock right now. If, however, you can convert other energy into pure energy, I'd be ok with sending a small amount of our main reactor power output to you."
"AGREEMENT REACHE- <Indiscernible broken sounds> PRIORITY OVER-RIDE. NEW BEHAVIOR DICTATED. MUST BREAK TARGET INTO PURE ENERGY."
The probe closed the transmission and started to rapidly approach the capital.
"Uhh... this isn't good. What do we do?" the Communications Manager asked.
One of the Scientists near him, the Head of the Experimental Weapons Department, said: "I know! We have this weapon in development, it concentrates solar energy into a dangerous blast. It's not quite finished yet, but with a small power dosage on this thing, we should be able to fry this thing's circuits! Let me just head there. Follow me!"
They proceeded running toward the EWD Armory. The ball of light on the back of the probe lighted up and a beam of white light came out from the front, targeting buildings on the ground. Buildings touched by the beam started to disintegrate into Pure Energy and then being gathered by the probe. It continued to do so on the fly until the probe reached it's destination.
A member of the group shouted: "This is bad! Are we there yet?"
The Head of the EWD responded with: "Yes, the door is right there!"
They ran towards it and entered it. Inside was a massive, Railgun-like structure with electric coils, haphazard wiring and a huge power cord sticking out the back.
The Head of the EWD shouted: "EVERYONE LISTEN UP! This is an emergency beyond anything we have experienced before! We HAVE to get the Solar Cannon ready NOW!"
"But sir, the cannon is still really-" "I SAID DO IT NOW!"
All the workers immediately rushed to the Cannon, preparing it for a shot. It was ready surprisingly quickly, as for the task at hand, only 1% Charge was needed.
"Alright everyone, aim at the Probe!"
The Cannon started moving, and the coils furthest back started glowing while a huge hatch was opening on the Ceiling. The probe redirected it's sight to the cannon and stopped firing for a moment, scanning the device. The Coils near the middle started glowing as the Charge neared required levels. The cannon was lined up with the probe.
The probe and the cannon fired simultaneously, creating a blinding flash of light. While the probe's beam didn't do much damage, the cannon completely annihilated it, making it disintegrate and leave behind the shining ball of Pure Energy.
One of the workers remarked: "Now that was quite something."
The Head of the EWD went over to where the probe disintegrated and looked at the ball. It was a sphere of bright light, not unlike a ball lightning.
"I'll try to start containment for this as soon as possible, it looks to be full of untapped potential. We saw what that Probe did with it, after all," He spoke.
The Communications Manager then said: "Well, we got that one, but there are probably more of them, judging by what the Probe said. I say we try to find where they are coming from, go there, and blow it up with the Solar Cannon."
All of the others started arguing before coming to the conclusion that this is probably a good idea. After a few Hours, the mission had been set up. A Spaceship was ready, the Cannon was attached to the ship, a crew was assembled, and a checkup had been performed to make sure everything worked correctly. A small crack was found on the Solar Cannon's secondary coil, but was dismissed as a minor issue.
And after a mission briefing, the Ship took off. Its primary mission was to find the source of the Probes, but it had no places to go from, so it would clearly take a while to locate. Therefore, 5 scout ships, each connected to one another via radio, were also sent off to search other areas. The search was mostly uneventful. However, the Scout sent in the direction from where the probe came found a deactivated one. It was much larger than the one that attacked Orbitarium V.
The Scout enabled the Digital Interfacing Device and synchronized it with the Probe. After some fiddling with the settings, files were being copy-pasted onto the Board Computer. Among other things, the Probe contained two important bits of information: The Probe's Serial Number and the location of the origin of the Probes.
The Probe's serial number was AK-1000, and it appeared to be guarding the origin of the probes. But as he disconnected from AK-1000, the security probe suddenly started moving. The probes core started to function again and generating Pure Energy. The front part of the probe extended forwards and turned to the intruder.
"ERROR. ERROR. CODE TIME LIMIT REACHED. ACCESS DENIED. INTRUSION ALERT. ACTIVATING SECURITY PROTOCOLS. SCANNING FOR LIFEFORMS. 1 HYBRID LIFEFORM DETECTED. MOST CORRESPONDENT ENTITY: JBOT. ELIMINATING IMMEDIATE DANGER."
The Security Probe proceeded to send a signal to all the near probes, who came to encircle the intruder ship.
The Scout sent a message to the nearby Probes stating "Calm down! I'm not that JBot guy that you seem to hate so much. Please, lower your weapons!"
The Security Probe responded with a transmission request. The nearby probes stood still. The Scout accepted the request with a shaking hand.
"SECURITY PROBE 1000-AK SPEAKING. STATE YOUR IDENTITY AND REASON FOR INTRUSION."
"I'm an Oculeen Scout. I'm here to collect data because one of your probes attacked us. I can assure you, I'm not here because of hostile intent, simply for information."
"REQUEST GRANTED. WE HAVE TO COLLECT PURE ENERGY TO REACTIVATE THE ORIGIN AND THE TIME IS NEARING OUR DEADLINE. WE HAVE ONLY COLLECTED THE HALF OF IT AND SUCH INTERRUPTIONS LIKE JBOT ARE NOT TOLERABLE. <Indiscernible broken sounds> FURTHERMORE, YOU ARE TRESPASSING WITHIN PURITY SPACE, THE HOLY ORIGIN MAY NOT BE APPROACHED FOR ANY REASON."
"Odd... well, I have what I came for, I'll just leave you be then. Goodbye!"
"ACCEPTED. FURTHER TRANSGRESSIONS SHALL NOT BE TOLERATED, LEAVE NOW AND DO NOT RETURN IF YOU HAVE NO INTENTIONS TO HELP. TERMINATING CONTACT."
The Scout then flew away as fast as he could before contacting the main Ship.
"Hello! I bring both good and bad news. First, the good news: I know where the origin point of the probes is. Bad news... I apparently angered them enough for them to not want us here anymore."
The Captain responded: "Well, that is... less than ideal. Let us meet up and discuss this somewhere else."
And so the Scout ships and the main ships all met at a point near the area of interest that was still far enough to not provoke the Probes. The Crew of the ship discussed a new plan, as the old one was no longer viable due to the Scout's mistake. Eventually, they agreed on a plan: give AK-1000 some scrap material for it to turn into pure energy, and once it is distracted, quickly move to and destroy the Origin.
So, they started executing the plan. One of the scout ships, one that wasn't near the origin before, brought a large pile of scrap metal towards AK-1000 and deposited it next to the Probe.
The Security Probe AK-1000 turned to the scout: "WE ACCEPT YOUR GIFT, YOUR INTRUSION IS PARDONED. COMMENCING PURIFICATION PROCEDURE."
As the probe was busy disintegrating the scrap metal, the other ships passed by AK-1000 and to the origin point. The Origin turned out to be an ancient dyson sphere around the only space body in this system, a white A-type star, made out of a pure white metal and crystals with some plates orbiting it, the damage was apparent. Thousands of probes orbited it trying to repair it, to relatively small avail compared to it's size. Not a shed of light came from it as it completely enveloped the star. The Captain gave the order to aim the Solar Cannon. It started moving, and the coils started to glow once again.
Suddenly, 1000-AK turned around: "IMPOSSIBLE! PROBES! DO NOT LET THESE IMPURE HARM THE HOLY ORIGIN FURTHER! FAST! <Indiscernible broken sounds> THREAT LEVEL: MAXIMUM. ACTIVATING ORIGIN DEFENSE PROTOCOL Z-9. WEAPONS ENGAGED."
The Coils on the Solar Cannon start to glow immensely bright as the power increases tremendously and the temperature reaches extremely high levels. Security Probe 1000-AK and all the other probes in this system rapidly approached the ship, but it was already too late. After reaching maximum power the Solar Cannon fired, yet, something unexpected happened. One second before the shot, the second coil melted down due to the small crack in it that allowed the extreme heat to enter it, causing the whole front part to fall off and making the shot extremely spread out. In a single second, the cannon released 1 percent of the Sun's total radiation, creating a blinding flash of light, causing everyone on board to fall unconscious.
After the crew awakened, they were met with a strange scene, the Origin was completely back in order and a strange creature, half crystalline and half mechanical appeared on everyone's screens.
The creature said in a robotic, yet harmonic manner: "WE ARE FREE! YOU HAVE FLOODED OUR SYNTHESIS MECHANISMS WITH A WEALTH OF PURE ENERGY. WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE CYCLES HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED IN SECONDS. THE PROCESS IS INCOMPLETE, YET WE HAVE EMERGED. WE ARE THE PURITY. WHY HAVE YOU INTERRUPTED THE PROCESS?"
The Captain said: "...I'll be perfectly honest: I tried getting rid of the probes because they disintegrated a large part of our capital. I have a feeling that these probes are bugged, the one we met was perfectly friendly, then it suddenly had a 'Priority Override' and started attacking. Do you have anything to do with that?"
The creature responded: "STRANGE, VERY STRANGE, THE PROBES WERE PROGRAMMED TO BE FRIENDLY TO EVERYONE THEY MEET AND ONLY TRANSFORM ASTEROIDS INTO PURE ENERGY. WHAT YOU SAY IS HIGHY UNLIKELY."
"But... Highly unlikely does not mean impossible. Even if the chance of something happening is slim, it still is a chance."
"YES, BUT UPON CLOSER EXAMINATION, WE FOUND NO BUGS OR ERRORS OF ANY KIND INSIDE THEIR SYSTEMS."
"Weird... perhaps it recognized us as asteroids? That is completely possible, considering our nature."
"IMPOSSIBLE, IF THIS WAS TRUE, THEN THEY WOULD NOT EVEN START A CONVERSATION WITH YOU."
"Right... but then what happened?"
"THE PRIORITY OVER-RIDE IS PROBABLY THE CAUSE OF THIS, I WILL EXTRACT THE PRIORITIES OF THEIR MISSION... ONE SECOND..."
- TRAVERSE SPACE RECORDING DATA; PRIORITY: 5/10
- SEEK MATERIALS FOR REPLICATION; PRIORITY: 9/10
- SEEK MATERIALS FOR TRANSFORMATION INTO PURE ENERGY; PRIORITY: MAXIMUM
- REPLICATE TO EXPAND SCOPE OF MISSION; PRIORITY: 10/10
- AFTER FIVE CYCLES, RETURN TO THE POINT OF ORIGIN; PRIORITY: MAXIMUM AFTER THE TIME EXPIRES; TIME LEFT: 1 CYCLE
"STRANGE, I DID NOT PROGRAM THEM LIKE THIS. SOMETHING MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED WITH 1000-AK."
"I have an idea what might have happened: AK-1000 saw us as trespassers while we were getting here, and he seems to have registered the Scout as an individual named 'JBot' and promptly encircled his ship. Perhaps some guy named JBot did something?"
"YES HE DID! HE CHANGED THE PRIORITY NUMBER 3 FROM 550 TO 1... WAIT. LET ME SEE THE FIRST EVER MISSION DESCRIPTION."
- TRAVERSE SPACE RECORDING DATA; PRIORITY: 9/10
- SEEK MATERIALS FOR REPLICATION; PRIORITY: 7/10
- SEEK MATERIALS FOR TRANSFORMATION INTO PURE ENERGY; PRIORITY: 55/10
- REPLICATE TO EXPAND SCOPE OF MISSION; PRIORITY: 6/10
- CONTACT ALIEN LIFEFORMS IN A FRIENDLY MANNER: 8/10
- AFTER FIVE CYCLES, RETURN TO THE POINT OF ORIGIN; PRIORITY: MAXIMUM AFTER THE TIME EXPIRES; TIME LEFT: 5 CYCLES
"I can definitely see some differences here. Do you see how number 5 completely disappeared?"
"YES, IT SEEMS LIKE 1000-AK IMPOSED A NEW PRIORITY LIST AFTER JBOT CAME. BUT THAT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE THE PROBLEM... I WILL LOOK DEEPER INSIDE THE PROGRAM THAT I MADE BEFORE BEING PUT TO STASIS, IT IS QUITE SIMPLE..."
- SCAN (for targets, as defined in Target List).
- IF (no current target).
- THEN (select New target from Current Targets list, using specified priorities).
- IF (Current Position is AT Current Target).
- THEN (Set Current Behavior to New Behavior, based on Behavior Priority Settings).
- PERFORM (Current Behavior).
"...I don't see any problems..."
"I ALSO DON'T, I GUESS THE ONLY SOLUTION IS TO SIMULATE THE PROCESS OF THOUGHT WHEN IT MEETS ONE OF YOU."
- SCAN FOR TARGETS -> OCULEEN VESSEL
- CURRENT POSITION IS AT CURRENT TARGET
- SET CURRENT BEHAVIOR TO NEW BEHAVIOR, BASED ON THE BEHAVIOR PRIORITY SETTINGS
"EVERY TIME A BEHAVIOR IS COMPLETED OR INTERRUPTED THE PROGRAM SELECTS A NEW BEHAVIOR BASED ON THE DEFINED BEHAVIOR TARGET, PRIORITIES AND WHAT KIND OF TARGET IS CURRENTLY SELECTED; A REALLY HIGH PRIORITY WOULD CAUSE A PROBE TO FOCUS ITS ATTENTION ON THAT BEHAVIOR."
"So what would it end up doing?"
"THE BEHAVIOR WITH THE HIGHEST PRIORITY CORRESPONDENT TO THE TARGET. SO IT WOULD BE NUMBER 3 BECAUSE OF THE 55/10 PRIORITY... WAIT... OF COURSE! THE PRIORITIES ARE THE PROBLEM!"
"SO EVEN WHEN DIVIDED BY THE MULTIPLIER OF 5 OF AN ALIEN VESSEL, IT WOULD STILL BE 11/10."
"I see. So the Probe mistakes us for a spaceship and tries to convert us.Yikes."
"YES, BUT NOT ONLY THAT, IT IS THE 55/10, WHICH SHOULDN'T EVEN BE POSSIBLE. THE CAUSE OF IT COULD BE EITHER ME TYPING IN A SECOND 5 BECAUSE OF BEING PUT TO STASIS AT THAT TIME, OR 1000-AK'S DATA BEING CORRUPTED OVER THE CYCLES, THEN TRANSFERRING THE CODE TO THE NEWLY CREATED PURITY PROBES."
"Wow. Just goes to illustrate how a tiny mistake or a minuscule data corruption can ruin everything. So, how do we fix this?"
"THERE IS A SOLUTION TO THIS, I SHALL BEGIN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW TYPE OF PURITY PROBES TO REPROGRAM THE OLD ONES TO RETURN HERE AND BE RECYCLED OR REPROGRAMMED AGAIN."
"Let's hope this works. It definitely sounds like a good plan!"
"IT WILL WORK. WE ALSO WANT TO EXPRESS OUR SIGN OF GRATITUDE TOWARDS YOUR SPECIES FOR REACTIVATING THE ORIGIN AND PREVENTING A GLOBAL DISASTER. WHAT DO YOU NEED? WE CAN GIVE YOU OUR FORCES, TECHNOLOGY, OR A SIGN OF PURITY NEEDED FOR AN ALLIANCE."
"Well, we are people mostly Isolated from many happenings around the galaxy, and we are mostly helpless in the event of an attack from enemy forces, so... I'd like a Sign of Purity. I'm sure we can benefit from this greatly, and you shall not be disappointed either."
"A WISE CHOICE INDEED, WE WILL HELP YOU TO RECOVER FROM ANY ATTACKS MADE BY THE PROBES AND WE COULD EVEN FORGE AN ALLIANCE IF YOU WANT."
"We'll consider that. For now, we will return to our territory to fix up the damage caused by that unfortunate mishap. We shall meet again. Goodbye!"
"GOODBYE, OCULEEN, MAY YOUR TRAVELS BE SAFE AND YOUR PATH PURE. WE WILL START RECOVERING ALL THE MEMBERS OF OUR SPECIES FROM STASIS AND THEN REPAIR THE DAMAGE DEALT."
After that the Oculeen vessel turned around and flew away, back to their capital.