This Christmas, Eye Moustaches brings you a festive tale of intergalactic conflict, fear, betrayal, paranoia and the elimination of the free will of entire space faring civilisations by a seemingly unstoppable force of unknown origin. Enjoy!
From the journal of Eimos Taches, Ruler, Military Commander and Table Tennis Champion of the Holy Bob Sagetonian Empire
Late last cycle I was awoken by my chief aide.
“Sir, you’re needed in the war room immediately!” he said, a look of panic on his face.
“What in Saget’s name are you talking about” I replied as I reached for my nightstand.
“It’s, it’s, I,” he spluttered as I pawed at my nightstand trying to find my eyes, “the Branflakes Empire, Sir, they’ve attacked us.”
My heart skipped a half beat. I nearly dropped my eyes. Was this some ill-advised act of betrayal? Or could it be that the Branflakes Empire, our oldest ally, had been converted too? I knew it had been a topic of much discussion among some of our generals. If they were right then we were truly alone in the galaxy.
I hastily inserted my eyes, got out of bed and hurried to the war room.
“Branflakes (AFK) has been placed under AI administration.”
It was as we’d feared. While we in the midst of coordinating our response to the Branflakes Empire’s unprovoked attacks at the southern periphery of our territory, a message from our spies was discovered at the bottom of a stack of other reports. The seemingly unstoppable artificial intelligence administration infestation had claimed another empire
Over a few cycles we had watched as a carrier with an impressive escort of Branflakes ships moved into territory controlled by the Snoren Alliance, another empire who had fallen prey to administration. Seeing an opportunity to increase our territory err that is to say seeing a chance to help our oldest and indeed only ally we sent ships to capture stars left poorly defended in the Snoren’s rush to repel the inbound Branflakes armada. It was all going well as we both made steady progress through Snoren space.
Then during one of my briefings, as we were all getting up to leave, one of my junior advisors cleared his throats. “Why haven’t they reclaimed the stars they’ve lost, because as it is that carrier is out on its own?” A hush descended as we all recognised that something was wrong. Shortly after the Branflake’s invading carrier had departed a Snoren carrier had set course from the now poorly manned star from which the carrier had launched. AI empires are like that, if they identify a poorly fortified star they’ll attack even when it’s clear that if they succeed they won’t hold the star for long. In this case they did capture the star and went on to capture several more, effectively building a barrier of hostile stars between the Branflakian invasion force and the core of their empire.
Ticks turned to cycles and still the stars hadn’t been reclaimed. Having charged into Snoren space, the carrier came to rest at a star along the Bob Sagetonion/Snoren border and did not move. The Snoren fleet regrouped and started to push back against our meagre advances and without the superior military might of the Branflakes Empire we were unable to put up much of a fight. The situation eventually reached a sort of equilibrium. The Branflakes Empire still held two Snoren stars, we controlled one and the Snoren Empire continued to occupy three stars in Branflakes space. A sort of peace had come.
But in the war room there was anything but peace.
“I’m telling you, I, we know the signs! They haven’t moved in two cycles! The Branflakians have turned! You don’t want to admit it, but you know it’s true. Lack of movement or communication is how this thing starts, in only a few ticks time it will have run its course and the entire empire will be under AI control. We have a small window now to attack!” argued Admiral Mees Torex. “The AI may not be in control yet, but the Branflakes command as we knew it is gone. If we start attacking stars they won’t launch any counter attacks until the process is complete, and by then we’ll be in position to capture their heartlands.”
“We can’t attack the Branflakians! In all of space they are our only friends. You wait, in a little while they’ll start moving again and you’ll be glad we didn’t invade them.” countered Ei Von, senior advisor and photocopier technician.
“Hell even if they aren’t about to go into administration,” replied Mees Torex, “I still think we should attack while we have the chance. We’ve got to attack them some time, if we do it now while they’re unprepared we’ll lose fewer ships. I’m tired of being the lesser party in this alliance, it’s humiliating.”
“We must hold the course and our lord Bob Saget shall deliver us from this peril. We shall prevail and sing his name throughout all of space” proclaimed High Priest Phallo Anagram for the twentieth time that cycle.
The final decision was to wait, for fear of angering the Branflakians who, in spite of recent losses, were still far more powerful than us, no matter what Mees Torex believed.
This brings us up to this dark night in the war room. Despite many beneficial trades with the Branflakes Empire, upon gaining consciousness the first thing the AI did was judge our empire to be an enemy. Carriers along our border set course for Sagetonion stars while the invasion force embedded in Snoren space turned their attention to the few stars we’d been able to hold onto in that sector, seemingly ignoring the Snoren forces that threatened their own home stars. Could the AIs be in collusion? I shudder to contemplate it.
It was clear that the many cycles of friendship, communication, trade and cooperation meant nothing to this new, cold Branflakes Empire. Some conflict, perhaps earlier, before the alliance, had stuck in its memory and now our empire is an enemy of this soulless, unfeeling, untiring entity. Unlike other civilisations, an AI controlled empire cannot be reasoned with; its trust cannot be earned. Sending it money or technology might temporarily buy favour from it but we are no position to pay. And so it is with heavy heart that we must communicate with this twisted remnant of our old friends the Branflakians the only other way it understands. With combat.
A sense of dread hangs over New Sagetopolis as we contemplate the threat posed by the artificial intelligences it is hard not to think back to earlier days where the news of an empire being taken into administration was seen as an interesting opportunity. We were so naïve back then. “They’re just computer programmes,” we thought “they follow rules, rules we can manipulate”. And so we curried favour by sending unsolicited technology to every AI empire that we weren’t in direct contact with so as to prolong any conflicts between them and the hated Womble Republic and Ponde Federation.
But as it turns out, arming people so that they’ll carry out your dirty work is bad. Who knew? Within a few cycles both our ships and those of the Snoren fleet were vying to control the same territory and following one innocent mistake in which we both tried to capture the same star any goodwill that we’d logged in its cold data banks was gone and we were facing an empire whose weapon technology we had previously funded.
That wasn’t the only consequence of our arrogance. When our military was only really getting started we decided to invade the neighbouring Bogeyann Empire. The empire had recently succumbed to AI administration and Admiral Torex argued, as he has tonight, that three cycles of inactivity meant they were as weak as they were ever likely to be. The Bogeyann AI controlled only seven stars, surely we, as organic beings could roll up our sleeves, uncoil our sphlinl’ clogks, meld minds and put the ol’ magenta matter to use and outwit what we thought as no more than a glorified calculator. How wrong we were. The machines require no sleep whereas I do and as you know it is an affront to the Great Saget for any orders to his army to be delivered by anyone other than his chosen representative, the emperor. The cowardly Wombles refused to attack the Bogeyanns and without a superior army, a fertile star to operate as a staging ground or the possibility of feigning an alliance so as to strike when the opponent’s back is turned, intergalactic wars against a small but compact army have the capacity to drag on indefinitely.
For cycle after cycle we were stuck in a costly ordeal of brief victories followed by losses and desperate attempts by the Bogeyann AI, if such a thing can feel desperation, to take over our stars, attempts which nevertheless required ships to repel them and drew our forces away from more promising targets. As the empire of King Phillip III was slowly carved up by the Snoren and Branflakian fleets we could only watch, unable to commit any significant forces because they were needed to fight what at times seemed to be the Bogeyann fleet in its entirety. Our later attempt to invade the Snoren sphere would likely have been more successful had our major foothold in that area not been under constant Bogeyann attack. The Bogeyanns were likely backed by someone else as there technology was too advanced for their meager scientific teams to achieve otherwise. It’s hard to get too angry about this because, well we did the same thing.
Had we not been so cocky perhaps we could have brought more glory to Saget. Instead we must face the fact that our current situation, where the greatest threat to our way of life is not the vast empires of the Wombles and the Ponde — who are still dicks by the way — but these artificial menaces which we armed and provoked.
From the onset of infection the affected societies do not communicate with the galactic community so we have very little information to work with. We do not know how this civilisational cancer spreads. It is not related to proximity. Many cycles ago several fledgling civilisations from different corners of the galaxy fell under its sway. We don’t understand the true nature of this affliction, but I have a theory of my own. I’ve studied the movements of civilisations afflicted with administration. I’m forced to conclude that the causative agent, whatever it may be, is ubiquitous. All civilisations are at risk of falling victim to it, but there’s one thing that keeps it at bay. I believe I know the infection’s weakness.
King Phillip grew despondent after he was attacked on all sides by enemies. The Branflakians saw their plan to rush into Snoren space and quickly lay claim to it stall in the face of resistance and then had to watch as their haste led to several of their own stars being invaded. I believe that after that, they didn’t have the will to fight, making them susceptible to administration.
Hope and the feeling that success is possible is the only way to stave it off. And yet with the soulless AI fleets approaching from all sides, our newly acquired territories in ruin and the other empires refusing to communicate I fear that the infection may take me too.
I pray that Bob Saget will give me strength.
From the journal of Eimos Taches, Ruler, Military Commander and Table Tennis Champion of the Holy Bob Sagetonian Empire
Good Bob, what a load of glunph!
Hello, I am Mees Terex, Acting President of the New FHBS Republic. I haven’t figured out how to change the letter head of the official journal.
Shortly after that zealot finished his self-pitying account of how he nearly brought this civilisation to its knees through inaction, my loyalists stormed the Imperial Trapezoid and seized control. I personally punched him in the heart sac, killing him instantly. I then prised his eyes from his cold dead hands and I’ve been wearing them ever since. People need to know who’s boss.
Just out of curiosity, I ran his theory of administration by my new head of science and research (the old head of science and research is mounted on a pike in front of the Trapezoid) and he told me it was utter glunph. He told me that my theory, that administration is the result of a secret experiment by the Wombles gone horribly wrong made way more sense.
My next act was to commit our forces to attacking Branflake stars like we should have done two cycles ago. The public have supported me in this, even Eimos would have to admit that our people have been toying with the idea of backstabbing the Branflakians, we just never had the strength of character to be the ruthless deal breaking bad asses we always knew we could be. It took the possible collapse of all organic thought and an unprovoked attack for our people to nut up. So far it’s been successful like I knew it would be. We’re slowly making advancing towards the heart of Branflakian space. The Snoren AI is still feral and attacking the Branflakians from elsewhere and the Ponde Empire are attacking both of them, so the Flake AI is distracted.
Having refused our earlier offer of an alliance to destroy the Bogeyanns the Wombles have since invaded Bogeyann space (without so much as a heads up by the way) and more or less wiped them out. We’ve a non-aggression pact with the Womble’s at the moment, but as soon as we conquer Branflakian space they’re going to pay for ignoring us earlier. They’ll all pay, the entire galaxy, we’ve been the weak opportunists of space, dancing around larger forces for too long. It’s time to fulfil our destiny and build an army and be the biggest, most violent, don’t-give-a-glunph empire the universe has ever known!
ALL HAIL BOB NEWHART! THE ONE TRUE BOB!