11: The Cost of Failure


"Curiously, it was during this same trial that the Galaxy Federation decided to erase all of the surveyor's recorded observations while she was on Delta DES 8228. Why would they do such a thing? Facts are still facts no matter how you discover them, why destroy the data? Unless maybe hidden somewhere in that mass of data is a fact or two that might make somebody 'uncomfortable' if it were known." (Footnote from: Preliminary report on the Delta DES 8228 incident.)

Please Teacher Crossroads. Chapter 11.

A report to the committee:

"I can only hope that when the time comes we can establish a peaceful relationship with these people. As things stand now there is every reason to believe that they see us as hostile invaders and even now prepare for war." Final report on the loss of Delta DES 8228.

It was the same room that Mizuho had stood in twice before; dark and featureless the walls were lost in the shadows. In the darkness were those who sat in judgment, safely hidden from the light. As the single light in the center of the room came up it revealed a weary older gentleman. Known only as the Chairman he commanded the respect of those hidden in the darkness even as they prepared to pass their verdict. It was obvious that he had not had much sleep in the last several hours but still he remained strong and focused.

"I hope you gentlemen will excuse my tardiness but I have been working non-stop gathering data for my report." He said flatly.

"Please begin," said a disembodied voice from the darkness.

"Very well then: At approx. 25:30 hours yesterday the Galaxy Federation high command received a request from the Miruru for an immediate interdiction of all space in the vicinity of planet Delta DES 8228. This came in the form of a clear text message from the Captain of the Miruru, Hatsuho Kazami, who had apparently been in a skirmish with elements acting contrary to Galaxy Federation mandates. Since the requester was a class A troubleshooter for the Frontier Planets office, this request should have been honored and a squadron of Interdictors sent to the area to investigate. Instead, a single Interdictor was sent with orders to seize the Miruru and her crew. I was unable to discover the reason for her request or why it was countermanded. When I tried to find out who countermanded the request nobody in the chain of command could remember a thing. This was only the first in a long series of what one might consider suspicious circumstances surrounding this incident which I will get back too in a little bit.

"As the Interdictor approached the relay station, the commander noted that there were two other observer ships, the Marie and the other believed to be the Miruru flying in close proximity to the station. As the Interdictor neared the area the beacon was observed to go off-line and the ship believed to be the Miruru dislodged into Flat Space shortly thereafter."

"Wait!" said a voice from the shadows, "Are you saying one of your observer ships deliberately dislodged blindly into unknown space!"

"Yes sir, that is apparently what happened. It needs to be noted that the ship dislodged so shortly after the beacon was disabled that there is a good possibility that they did not slip too far down the gravity gradient. It could very well have penetrated close enough to Delta DES 8228 so as to be able to make planet fall without using all its fuel."

"What about the other ship, the Marie?" the voice asked.

"The Marie was boarded shortly thereafter and found to be a virtual derelict! All its computer data and stored information had been wiped from its internal systems, even the ship's AI was wiped clean!" The Chairman finished as he held up the lifeless form of the little yellow doll wearing only a red inner tube.

"So, you have no records of what happened then?"

"Not exactly, we do have other sources of information and they are still being analyzed at this time." the Chairman continued, a slight smile on his face.

"We understand," the disembodied voice spoke, "please continue."

"After the Interdictor arrived at the relay the technicians restored power to the system AI and memory functions. However, the Flat Space relay, which should have been able to hold its location for that short a period of time, had been deliberately disabled and no longer penetrated into normal space. This, of course, precluded any possibility of there being any pursuit of the Miruru by the Interdictor. Additionally, the derelict Earth spacecraft known to be docked to the Delta DES 8228 beacon was gone."

"It would seem on the face of the data that you are presenting here, that an un-incorporated species has acquired some of our technology and not understanding, wantonly destroyed it?" The unseen voice concluded pompously.

"No sir, the data supports no such conclusion."

"Care to explain that?"

"You cannot accidentally erase all the data onboard a 100 year old deep space craft, neither can such a primitive race just take control of such an important navigational asset! There are too many protective layers, too many redundant pathways too deeply imbedded within both of these systems. Only the onboard computer's AI component has access to all of them! Therefore, even if the captain herself ordered a full system wipe, there still should be some data remaining."

"So then there still is some data stored in the ship's memory?"

"No sir there is not as I stated; All of the ships internal computer systems have been wiped clean! The point I'm trying to make here is that that is only possible if the AI itself is complicit in its own destruction! The importance of this last event cannot be overstated. AI's are logic driven machines, for the Marie AI to have done what it did to itself, then from its perspective: It had no other choice!"

"Assuming the machines were not malfunctioning: then is it possible for the earth people to have commandeered the two ships forcing the AI's into a self-destruct mode in order to prevent the Galaxy Federation from being compromised?"

"No sir, I do not believe that is the case."

"Why not?"

"Three reasons primarily:

1). Primitive does not mean stupid. Their current stage of development is such that had they become aware of the observer ships they would have approached them very cautiously.

2). If the Earth people had gained control of the two Observer ships and understood them enough to pilot them, then certainly they would have recognized the importance of the AI and the navigational relay.

3). The observational data onboard the Marie was of the Earth people themselves. Any data at all referencing the Galaxy Federation would have been minimal at best and certainly would not have posed any threat to our security." The Chairman continued.

"I am certain that what happened here was done with deliberate intent and purpose."

"What do you suppose their purpose was?"

"Exactly what was accomplished! To deny us access to the information gathered by the observers and the intentional isolation of Delta DES 8228 in order to prevent additional incursions by the Galaxy Federation. Furthermore, I do not believe that the Miruru or the Marie were ever under the control of anyone other than their assigned captains."

"So you are admitting that members of your own elite Surveyor Corps were responsible for this fiasco!"

"Not exactly, while I'm reasonably sure that certain members of the corps shut the beacon down, responsibility for their actions rests elsewhere."

"And where might that be?" The voice asked in exasperation.

"With this committee itself!"

"Explain yourself!"

"The AI in control of the Delta DES 8228 beacon was shut down by an expert, I suspect by Hatsuho herself. However, I am convinced this was an act of desperation done in response to possible unethical activities by elements within the Galaxy Federation. Elements certain members of this committee are charged with overseeing!"

"It seems to us as that you are overreaching here, how did you arrive at such a conclusion based on this little amount of data?"

"Because after the Delta DES 8228 AI was recovered and the data downloaded it was determined that it too was complicit in its own destruction! The same as what had happened with the Marie AI! Both these machines actually think that somehow their functioning is causing harm to others. That could only happen if they are in possession of some data harmful to the indigenous population or otherwise indicating activities contrary to Galaxy Federation Observer Corps mandates. Accessing this information is proving to be quite troublesome, as the surviving AI has become very petulant believing that it is acting in the best interests of its creator."

"Interesting," the disembodied voice spoke to itself, "please continue."

"Now regarding the relay itself, the records show that the only relay placed at Delta DES 8228 was done by the Astral Cartography Ship. However, Delta DES 8228 only having one very large moon would have required a specially designed relay pair and indeed that is exactly what the repair crew on board the Interdictor reported as having been salvaged. However, for some reason there are no records of this special relay pair ever being placed. While I will admit to the possibility that some of the paperwork might have been lost, it is inconceivable that all records of this endeavor should be missing. Therefore, we must allow for the possibility that these records were intentionally erased. That being the case I went back into the data and looked for evidence of other records regarding Delta DES 8228 being altered or erased.

"Sadly enough, I've found several. I will highlight a few of them for you. When I looked into the records of the movements of the Miruru, I discovered that it spent considerable time in the vicinity of Delta DES 8228 immediately after it was discovered. Hatsuho is an accelerated trained expert in AI programming, her skills having been honed for the express purpose of building the previously mentioned undocumented special relay.

"As an aside, I find this last fact particularly unsettling. We all know that accelerated aging is oftentimes necessary in order to meet certain time constraints, however, to ignore or cover up the fact that one has made such a sacrifice is to spit in their eye!" The Chairman exclaimed.

"Continuing on;" he sighed, as he forced himself back on point, "during the time Hatsuho was programming this undocumented gate she also acquired a mate, apparently a native of Delta DES 8228 but once again the records of this are conveniently missing."

"If these records are missing then how do you know this!" Shouted the unseen voice indignantly.

"First off, there are records showing the rescue of an indigenous person orbiting the next closest planet in the ACS logs. Secondly, while she was there she became pregnant. Finally, I can account for the whereabouts of everybody else during this time. She apparently has had two daughters by this individual, her eldest Mizuho, former captain of the Marie whose whereabouts are currently unknown, more conveniently missing records by the way, and Maho who was crewing on the Miruru. Interestingly enough, while there is a record of this individual's death; he apparently did so before Hatsuho conceived her second child! This prompted me to look into the circumstances of his demise and not surprisingly, I found holes in those records as well.

"As I continued rifling through the archives I did discover reports dating back to when Delta DES 8228 was first discovered. Another point I find somewhat disconcerting, while accelerated aging allows us to put fully trained observers in the field quickly, it is by no means instantaneous! This means that there has been an undocumented observer on the planet from the beginning. I also discovered that my office had placed our official observer in the very same area.

"With some effort, I was able to access the reports of both observers and discovered that the undocumented observer was being used to spy on the other. When I looked into the reports submitted by the official observer, Mizuho Kazami, Hatsuho's second child by the way, I noticed that several of them were either incomplete or missing altogether. I was also surprised to learn that she had been ordered back here to face charges of misconduct and that my office was never informed. The verdict in this matter was sealed and it took quite some effort to get the records opened. What I found appears to point to even more skullduggery: The charges appear to be trumped up, her punishment was unduly harsh, and there was an order to erase all of her files and research materials. It really doesn't take a genius to figure out somebody is going to great lengths to cover their tracks."

"I think I've heard enough," the unseen voice interrupted. "It was your department's responsibility to oversee Delta DES 8228 and you failed! Now, instead of accepting the blame for what is obviously an error in judgment on your part, you are trying to cast doubt and confusion by insinuating that another department was involved. So far, the only evidence you offer to support this wild theory appears to me to be nothing more than shoddy record keeping. What proof, what proof do you offer other than your wild speculations…"

The unseen voice's tirade came to an abrupt halt with the sounding of a gavel as it struck.

"Enough!" A second unseen voice was heard to say. "While this committee is in session you will treat all witnesses with the proper decorum! However, your colleague is right Mr. Chairman, unless you have some proof to offer, and I mean real definitive proof, then I will ask that you not to waste anymore of this committee's valuable time and just present us with your conclusions."

"Very well then," the Chairman sighed, "my conclusions are as follows:

"Planet Delta DES 8228 is apparently in possession of some new type of wealth the nature of which remains unknown but is nonetheless of very great value.

"Some members of the Galaxy Federation governing bodies, including the possibility of some members on this council are aware of this and are actively trying to exploit this wealth. Possibly using the indigenous person rescued by the ACS as a go between.

"Hatsuho Kazami became aware of this activity and requested immediate Galaxy Federation interdiction.

"When that help was not forthcoming she did then disable the only access to Delta DES 8228, deliberately stranding her and her family on the planet in the process."

"How do you come to the outrageous conclusion that some members of this committee were involved!" The first voice demanded.

"Gotcha!" He thought to himself.

"Because," his voice turning grim, "not mentioned anywhere in my report was the fact that an elite company of Galaxy Federation Enforcers was stranded at the relay site, having been teleported there from the Marie just before it shut itself down. Delta DES 8228 remains classified as a Frontier Planet and that means that any official request for the Enforcers would have to have come directly through me. As my office has made no such request, authorization for their presence obviously originated elsewhere. Since their rescue, they have been sequestered and continue to be de-briefed. The preliminary reports I've received so far are, to put it mildly, shocking."

"What gives you the right to withhold information from this committee!" thundered the voice from the darkness. "You sir, are to be placed into custody and the rescued Enforcers are to be released forthwith!"

With that said two Galaxy Federation enforcers carrying their stun batons at the ready entered the room. Rather than being frightened the Chairman smiled to himself, as all around the room without warning could be seen the twinkling glow of numerous teleporters as they teleported their human cargo into the room. Suddenly the lights came up, revealing those members of the council who had sought to remain in the darkness. Behind them could be seen members of the Surveyors corps, some of whom could be seen holding various types of weapons from the planets they were from. The guards, realizing that they did not have a dog in this particular fight wisely powered down their batons and put them back into their holsters.

The Chairman continued as if nothing had happened. Looking now at the members of the corps who had entered the room he repeated the surveyors' creed: "Look, but do not be seen, guide, but do not dictate, leave no sign of your passing and above all else do no harm!" he said as tears streamed down his face. "This mantra is imprinted in the hearts and minds of every surveyor. These are more than just words to us; they are a way of life. I have no doubt that Hatsuho, Mizuho and Maho did their utmost to live by these words. Now they are lost to us because of some here today who did not. This crime cannot be allowed to go unpunished!"

With that, several members of the surveyors walked up to those members of the council who also served as the heads of the Enforcement Division, the Development Department and the Research Division. Placing their hands on the shoulders of their charges they teleported the miscreants away. Satisfied that there were none present that had been party to any illegal activities the Chairman read his conclusion to those startled members of the committee who remained.

"The committee should be aware that due to astral conditions around planet Delta DES 8228 there was only one navigational beacon marking its location. The only way to re-establish contact with Delta DES 8228 from our side would be to recall the ACS that first discovered that world. Since so much time has passed since the ACS left this system, it has most likely acquired maximum velocity and will not be able to receive any new orders until it begins braking maneuvers. If such orders were to be given today it would still require around 100 years for the ACS to turnaround and re-acquire this system. So for the present time we must consider the Delta DES 8228 system a total write off."