Humans are Weird - We Figured
You want to hear the story of the Battle of Homeworlds? Ah, yes that is a story. Or rather it isn’t, and that is the story. Of course it doesn’t make sense young one. The story is about humans after all. Have you ever known humans to be logical? No, no, not individual humans. With proper training they can put up a good front of sanity for years. Not individuals, but groups, humans as a whole, when they get tribal. What? Of course there is a certain logic to genetically predetermined behavior - look who is telling this story? That is better. Now where was I? The Battle of the Homeworlds. Now settle down on all your legs and listen.
We spotted the humans long before they spotted us. That Artist Forbidden system piqued the interest of that particular brand of scientist that seek out the most horrible of everything. Every one of their planets was a Forbidden world. Some scorched their rocks under unbearable radiation. Some had no core the probes could find and devoured the probes themselves with planet sized storms. And the one planet that actually carried liquid water, that gift of the Artist, and carried life was as much of a Forbidden world as any of the others. The axis tilts, the poles are covered in ice, yes permanent covers of solid water young one. Indeed it is horrifying.
But most horrifying of all was the sentient life that called that planet from home. Yes humans. Now they are our allies. Then they were terrifying. They nearly tore their planet apart with war. They were deeply tribal. Their warfare tactics, well you are old enough to remember the War of the Wanderers. Their tactics are as terrifying and mad as the world that birthed them. Even those mad scientists of ours were terrified. We hoped that their ignorance would protect us. But it was not to be. They were space hungry. They lusted after the stars, the longed to encounter aliens, and in our ignorance we saw them as predators seeking new prey. So we crept from the system and prayed to the Artist that they would never leave their planet. That their tribalism and as yet primitive tech would keep them trapped.
Oh do stop laughing young one. Now we know better. Our ignorance was for the best I suppose. Who knows what we might have done had we know how fast they would reach the stars on their own? Of course they came and found us. You have read the records of first contact no doubt. How strong their desire, their lust, to meet other species was. We feared that passion. We could not see how so strong a drive could lead to anything good. Our terror turned to confusion at their joy. How much they were willing to submit to submit to us, to trust us as if we were older hatchings of the same clutch. We learned to work with their aggression and tribalism but the more we learned the more we came to fear their concept of vengeance.
Ah, you shudder. You remember the glassing of colony GamaX? Yes, you understand why we feared their vengeance. For you see we knew we had denied them the desire of their hearts. It is figurative young one. They figuratively say that their desires come from their hearts. Strange I know. But wherever that desire came from it was unbelievably powerful. We had spent centuries denying it, hiding, actively preventing them from the discovery of their neighbors. So yes, we feared their vengeance. We did not imagine we could hide it from them forever but we hoped to delay the discovery until we were prepared. Each homeworld and well developed colony produced a defense fleet, smaller colonies were evacuated on the sly and the colonists brought back to the homeworlds. It cost entire industries. Whole sectors of economic development crippled. Don’t give me that look. We were terrified. We had sinned against the humans and waiting for their infamous vengeance to fall. You are laughing again. Do you want to finish the story? No. Good.
Now here is why you came to me I presume. It was on my ship that humanity discovered our sin. I was set in command of a joint scientific task with a human research group. There was a military contingent with them. We stumbled on an old deep space exploration vessel that, unbeknownst to us had been tasked with removing the last observation satellites we dared leave in the humans system. To make a long harrowing misadventure short they humans got to the computers first and read the mission logs. I chose to face down the military commander myself when I was informed by my first officer. He suffered a minor aneurism poor thing. Well I won’t bore you with tales of my heroic plans to protect my ship and crew from their vengeance. I contacted central communications and gave the code that let them know the gig was up. Every homeworld fleet mobilized and waited for the final transmission from my ill fated ship. I swarmed onto the bridge of the humans’ ship, and the military commander wasn’t there. I was informed by a distracted comms officer that he was in the mess. I swarmed into the mess and found the commander casually sipping coffee.
I stared at him blankly until he glanced up and smiled at me.
“What’s up Commandant?” He asked.
It is a human turn of phrase. Look it up in the data banks.
“Haven’t you read the logs of satellites,” I asked in confusion.
“I had a summary of the relevant bits,” the commander said taking a sip of his coffee. “Nothing too interesting.”
“….so…” I pressed, utterly befuddled now. Where was the rage? Where was the sense of betrayal?
“Did you see something the human techs missed?” the commander asked, his interest piquing.
“Are you not offended?” I asked.
“Offended?” he said with a frown and I could see his brain parsing the data he had. “What about?”
I felt a surge of hope that the humans had missed the relevant data. If we could secure it-
“Do you mean about how hard you guys avoided first contact?” He asked his face lighting as if he had stumbled upon some minor revelation.
My hoped died a cold death as he examined me. And yet, I had learned to read human emotions. I could see no rage. Not even surprise. In fact it appeared that-
“You already knew?” I demanded in an embarrassingly high pitched voice.
He chuckled, chuckled, at the greatest insult ever offered to a sentient species, and turned back to his coffee and reports.
“Well, we figured.”
And all the homeworld fleets had to stand down and be dismantled and be disarmed and the cost of our ignorant mistake bled our share of the interplanetary markets for decades afterwards. They humans sometimes think to ask how they came to so easily claim such a share of the trade market and hopefully they are still as ignorant as we were. Humiliation was no easier a burden for us to bare than terror.
But we can’t be sure that decades from now it will not come up, and some human will sip their coffee and mutter.