Archive for February, 2014

February 15, 2014: 11:05 am: Pilot X, writing

The Verity descended towards a plain of identical looking, evenly-spaced one-story metal buildings. The Progons famously built down not up, so the buildings could be anything. His approved approach vector led him to one that began to slowly open to reveal a hangar. Besides the necessary landing equipment standard at all spaceports, the hangar was empty of any other ships. A solitary figure stood waiting.

The Verity touched down and before the Ambassador could finish a landing checklist a warning bell sounded. “External Lockdown Applied, All Systems Suspended,” the ship told him and displayed simultaneously. Not surprising, but disconcerting. Sort of the space travel equivalent of the spooky castle doors shutting behind you and locking.

The Progons had sent a bipedal robot to meet him. That was an unusual sign of deference. Progon machines were of all form factors, and few were bipedal. It wasn’t a necessary form for almost anything they did. The Progons generally didn’t care about making visitors feel at home either. It almost felt like they were trying to flatter him.

“Ambassador X, welcome to Tiel,” said the robot. It was likely an automata, not an inhabited machine but the Ambassador wondered. The Progons preferred to stay in large structures communing with each other in their electron-fast existence, rather than slowing themselves down into machines and the tedium of speaking aloud like an animal. Still, the Progons normally sent the equivalent of a rolling box to greet their visitors too.

“Thank you. What may I call you?” the Ambassador ventured.

“Assistant,” said the robot in a not unpleasant tone. Progons. They had names. They’r aerobats had names. But they just sucked at translation. “Assistant, er, 5.” The robot seemed to make it up on the spot. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you to your quarters.”

They ventured out of the hangar to a metal walkway that led directly to other square metal buildings. The Progons did like their right angles. Here and there distant movements betrayed other automata going about their business, but the Ambassador didn’t see another soul. Of course the Progons could inhabit any machine, and some inert structures if they wanted. They could have flitted into and out of the robot leading him without his knowledge.

And there were other Ambassadors on the planet as well. Some 453,000 of them. Each one kept apart from the other, equally spaced across the planet, so as not to ever come near composing a threat.

Some theorized it was a type of psychological warfare. Ambassadors on Tiel did not commune with their own kind and were left with unresponsive automata to speak with. It drove some mad. The previous Ambassador from Allendra had lasted a week. Of course he hadn’t gone mad, just requested an urgent transfer for ‘family reasons.’

The robot opened a sliding door at the end of one gangway and motioned the Ambassador to enter. Inside was what appeared to be a one story flat. If there were lower stories there was no obvious way of entering them. The quarters were sufficient. On the left was a circular mat that likely served for a bed. The Ambassador knew it was meant to serve a multitude of species hence the shape and the odd texture.

On the right was a small table that served as a desk and eating area with a chair and a few outlets for connectivity and such. Along the back wall was the kitchen. Large cabinets hung in the wall next to a mounted food preparation machine. A sink of sorts at least something that looked like it dispensed water. A lower wide bowl meant for bathing or possibly for excretion or knowing the Progons, both somehow.

The robot opened the cabinets to reveal stacks of identical bars wrapped in white paper. One side of the cabinet was refrigerated.

“We have provided a wide variety of Alenndran foods for your preparation. Stocks will be replenished automatically. Should you require other foods please make your request through the diplomatic channel you were assigned.”

In other words, you can fill out some paperwork, but don’t expect anything but these bars. The robot moved to the sliding door.

“These buttons here control the door. If you need to leave please alert us to your planned movements through the diplomatic channel you were assigned. You are expected out for exercise between the 4th and 6th hours.”

In other words, except for your daily jog, don’t leave unless we tell you to. There really wasn’t any need to. A diplomats life on Tiel consisted of relaxation, exercise, regular diplomatic meetings with a Progon representative (usually an automata) and wide stretches of boredom.

“May I be of assistance in any other matters, ambassador X?” the robot asked.

“No, thank you Assistant, er, 5,” the Ambassador mimicked the name. “You’ve been efficient.”

It was meant as flattery of its own but the robot showed no visible reaction.

“If you have further needs not previously covered by me,” submit them through the diplomatic channel you were assigned, the Ambassador finished for the robot in his head. But instead it said, “Use the communicator button on the provided device and call for Assistant 5. Have a pleasant day, Ambassador X.”

The robot left through the sliding door. What was that about? A last-minute parting shot of flattery? A communication device. Why hadn’t the robot pointed it out. The Ambassador looked around the spacious if sparse room. He saw no communication device. Was it a trick? A taunt? Then he saw it. Lying on the edge of the circular bed near the wall.

It was a small flat metal box with three buttons. Well that left him wondering which one was the communication button. Ah, it was written in Alendan. ‘Comm.’

The Ambassador had the impulse to call the robot back immediately just to see if it worked. But he didn’t. This was not standard procedure as far as he knew. The departing Alendan ambassador had briefed him and made it clear that he was left with no way of communicating directly to the Progons, probably to increase the isolation.

So what did the other buttons do? One white button was labeled Lights. He pressed it and the lights in the room dimmed. Another modern convenience. Other ambassadors reported the lights staying on at all times, messing with sleep patterns. The last green button was unlabeled. He pressed it but nothing happened. At least nothing he could tell. Maybe it blew up his ship in the hangar. Maybe it turned off the lights in some Progon room halfway across the planet.

He shrugged and tossed the device on the bed. Suddenly the door ripped open and two rolling boxes with surgical arms came rushing in and grabbed him.

“What is the nature of your emergency!” They shrieked.

“A green unlabeled button is your emergency button?” the Ambassador chuckled. “Bad design, Progons.”

February 4, 2014: 1:17 am: Pilot X, writing

Tiel appeared to be on fire. That was not unusual. Vegetation blended together on many planets to make land masses appear green. Individual fires on Tiel blended together to give the impression of a mass conflagration. It was more than appearance. The gas fields and generators that burned across much of Tiel were a conflagration. They powered the great machines in which the Progons lived.

Ambassador X knew this was but one of the reasons most Alendans worked very hard never to get assigned to a diplomatic mission on Tiel. There were few places on the planet that weren’t deadly to Alendans, and fewer people to spend your time with in the non-deadly sections.

Not to mention the Progons were deadly enemies with Alenda throughout most of time and space. Ambassador X had been assigned as a diplomat in a relatively calm stretch, thank goodness. He was the first Alendadn to serve as diplomat in more than a thousand years at this point. Well, if you didn’t count his immediate predecessor who lasted a week before having to be committed. The Ambassador was fairly certain it was a faked mental illness. And thoroughly understandable.

It was all the same to the Progons. The individual water sacks called Alendans barely registered as anything to a race of electricity. If an Alendan ever assaulted a Progon it would mean breaking their circuit and electrocuting the Alendan in the process. Also, Progons could communicate through time, so they knew what happned and would happen as much as the time-traveling Alendans. In fact they knew some things much quicker because they only had to ask their far flung machines what was going on. Alendans had to travel in space as well as time.

That didn’t mean there weren’t gaps. No race could be at all points in spacetime. So there were always mysteries. And this stretch of Progon time was a mystery to the Alendans. To be fair, this strecth of Alendan history was unknown to the Progons. They had carefully arranged to stay out of each other’s way for 1,000 years. So the Ambassador was not loving the idea of being plunked down in the middle of that quiet period and disturbing it. For one, the Progons would just call ahead to their future selves and find out what he did before he knew he would do it. HE hated that about them. For another it meant he was the one to break the fragile peace that led to the greatest war in history. A war that Alendan High Command was discovering raging in all manner of previously unknown stretches of history.

The Ambassador’s fate was start it. His mission was to mitigate it.

His only protection was his ship, The Verity. Within it, the Progons could not see him. He was protected from their prying eyes and they could not use their timecoms on him. The Verity encapsulated a singularity. This gave him a vast ship’s interior, lush with rooms, swimming pools, movie theaters, and anything else one could think of. It also gave him a time-shield that blocked attempts to read at least some of his future. The parts that existed within the influence of the singularity anyway.

It was the only way he could do this job.

He floated around Tiel for two more orbits before finally answering the relentless almost mindless request for identification and course by the Tiel Capital.

“Ambassador X de Alenda requesting diplomatic courtesies and permission to land in the capital.”

“permission granted,” the staticy voice spoke. It wasn’t a Progons. The Ambassador might never actually interact with a Progon his entire time on the planet. It was a machine the Progons had built that gave him his clearance. The machines were why the Progons were though of as a race of robots. The Progons themselves were much more insidious than robots. They had feelings and art and culture of a sort. But they were individuals made up of an electrical circuit. Their beliefs were so alien it was almost impossible for waterbag like the Ambassador to grasp them. That alone wouldn’t have been so bad if the Progons were not also convinced that they alone had the pure and dominant culture and all other beings deserved subservience, much like their machines.

“If only the robots really did rise up against their masters, ever,” mused the Ambassador. Then he took The Verity out of orbit and headed it down to the surface to begin his mission.

February 1, 2014: 2:15 am: Pilot X, writing

Encyclopedia Alendia

Progons – A race of pure electricity that houses itself in great machines.

Home planet: Tiel, which means “One”

Progons are often mistakenly thought of as a collective because of their basis in electricity. However Progons are individuals and do not and cannot merge into larger collective existence.

Unlike most biological entities, the Progons evolution was not driven by replication. While Alendans evolution centered on replication, electrical impulses did evolve in support of that. Progons early forms were driven by circuit completion with replication later supporting that.

The major step for Progon civilization was inhabiting Proroqs which allowed them mobility. Proroqs are a feature of Tiel that are natural formations that can move easily.

Primitive Progons were limited to inhabiting Proroqs but eventually learned to construct larger and more efficient machines. Eventually Progons created automata that could follow programming to build amazing cities and vehicles to leave the planet.

Actual protons exist in circuits in the great machines on Tiel. The protons most Alendans might encounter are simply robots or other automata controlled from Tiel.


Progons can send electrical signals instantaneously over long distances as well as through time. This capability has plowed them to explore the universe without leaving their home planet. Their automata expand and sometimes conquer while under homebound Progon control.

While Progon circuits can travel off planet the Progons themselves dislike travel greatly and it is an extreme rarity for an actual Progon to leave the planet.

Evolution causality controversy

Because Progons can communicate through time, some theories suggest they have caused their own evolution by sending instructions to the primitive Progons to guide them in creating machines outside the Proroqs. The Progons deny this saying it is impractical to communicate anything of significance to primitive Progons.

Most scientists believe the paradox could not be balanced and accept the Progons assurances. Alendans ave visited Progon history and have not found any evidence of interference from the future in their evolution.


Critics of Progon society say the regime has eliminated all society in order to create a culture of soldiery. Progon automata are warlike and the Progons have expanded to rule over large mounts of space centered around Tiel and the other central worlds.

The Progons and Sensaurians have no diplomatic relations but keep an uneasy distance between their two cultures. Alendans have fought fierce wars with the Progons at times but also maintain large amounts of peacetime as well. In peaceful sections of time, diplomats are often placed on Tiel, though most do not stay for extended periods for various reasons.

Accusations of a secret time war have persisted against the Progons by many sectors of Alendan and other society but no evidence for such a war has yet been uncovered.