The Final Update.
Written by Christopher Purnell (MarshalPurnell/Cavalier).
Olympus Mons System Command,
Universe Designate HAB-1
3 JULY 2170
Tucked away in the basement of the ultramodern headquarters of the Evidenzbüro was an imitation of a neo-baroque drawing room, filled with antique period furniture, a few well-stocked bookcases, and old works of art and various souvenir objet d'art collected by directors of the organization over the years. It was almost as if someone had taken a corner of Schloss Schönbrunn and transplanted it to Mars. Appearances, Senior Analyst Ritter Leonidas von Pleven reflected, were deceiving. The room had been constructed of the same materials and in the same style as the rest of the anc... Sarasavsati facility, and it had taken a great deal of work and sturdy wood paneling to create the illusion. A folly of some old director, most of the staff here in the Bureau’s portion of the Olympus Mons command facility believed.
Appearances there were deceiving as well. Behind the wood paneling were some of the most powerful white noise generators and electromagnetic dampening field generators available in Imperial space. With the door brought down and locked, anything could be discussed securely in this room; well, as long as one trusted everyone in the room. On the other hand, the precautions had some annoying side effects...
He handed off the first briefing booklet in the stack he was carrying to Generaloberst Hermann Schulhauser, the commander of the Evidenzbüro and thus the head of all the intelligence services of the Habsburg Empire. He was a stolid, middle-aged looking man whose pike grey army uniform fit tightly at his paunch, with a face dominated by his heavy mustachios and keen blue eyes. Schulhauser was not a man of impressive martial bearing but he was one of the most intelligent people in Imperial space, holding several doctorates in mathematics and linguistics earned at the same time he had been working his way up through the cryptoanalytic section of Army Intelligence. Leonidas and other senior analysts had worried that the man’s common origins and technical focus would harm the agency’s human intelligence focus, but Schulhauser had instead increased the level of systemization in recruiting and placing agents abroad.
Leonidas had found out that was because, far from being sentimental or holding to bourgeois notions of morality, Schulhauser saw the world in numbers and not people.
He handed the next briefing book to Admiraal zur Raum Josias Caine, the head of Naval Intelligence and personal representative of Grossadmiraal Korbel, head of the entire Navy. Caine was a sandy-haired, trim looking Englishman whose expertly tailored light-blue uniform fit him perfectly. He seemed to be the very incarnation of image the Imperial Navy sought to inculcate among the teeming trillions of human space. He nodded slightly as he took the book, and opened it up to begin looking through it while still sitting ramrod straight in his plush wooden chair.
Next up was Director Olaf Rikesgaarde of the Special Projects Division, responsible for Operation Tannhäuser, the centuries-long investigation of the Ancient facilities in the Solar System and elsewhere. The thin, blond civilian was dressed in the ubiquitous black business suit of the civilian intelligence service that made up the bulk of the Evidenzbüro proper. He was a man used to keeping secrets, of respectable reputation as a scientist and investigator but also a talented administrator, which made him invaluable to the Special Projects Division.
There were a couple of other black suited civilians in the room he didn’t recognize and who weren’t on the roster of attendees, but von Pleven duly passed out books to them. The door opened briefly as he finished, and two domestic staff entered pushing a pair of carts stuffed with pastries, savory meats and cheeses, breads and vegetables, and coffee-pots, carafes of water and fruit juice, and tea. The servants parked the carts beside the entrance, up against the wall, and promptly left.
“Secure the room, Leonidas.” Schulhauser ordered, even as he got up himself to get some coffee and fix a plate of food. The rest of the participants were likewise interested in refreshments, and Leonidas had to navigate through them to reach the security panel to shut the door and turn on the electronic countermeasures. That was done by punching in a code, swiftly enough completed, and afterward he got in the impromptu line to grab some coffee himself. As briefing officer he wouldn’t have the luxury of a plate of food, but no one would object to his partaking of the benefits of the coffee bean.
After everyone settled back down in their seats, enjoying the plates, Leonidas flipped to the first page of his own briefing book and began the conversation. “We’re here to discuss the implications of new information pertaining to Operation Tannhäuser, and to the Taloran state. Very recently the source Cardinal was involved in the final stages of the Taloran war with the Cylons, and encountered a series of extraordinary revelations. As one of our top field agents Cardinal had been assigned to the area to follow up on the connection between the Ancient facility builders and the Cylon race. As she had been responsible for uncovering this link, she was given Omega Twelve security classification and briefed on the nature of Ceres and Olympus Mons commands and sent back to the Taloran universe. Her mission has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations.”
Director Rikesgaarde nodded furiously at the assertion. “Bringing back that Cylon alone opened up all manner of avenues for research. But now, we’ve been able to confirm so much about the Ancient builders and their facilities, she’s handed us the first real breakthroughs we’ve made since cracking the Alnitak facility computer core.”
“I understand agent Cardinal suffered some severe wounds in this mission, and the one before,” Caine spoke up. “How is she recovering?”
Leonidas bit his lip. Cardinal was his responsibility, and her situation was a bit of cause for concern. But they would need to know everything, so as to reliably gauge the value of her work. “Agent Cardinal is recovering, physically, quite well. Her devoted faith has seen her through worse, though some members of my staff are concerned about her emotional state. She has always been a loner, with no real personal life, and a tendency towards the most vigorous penance for her necessary actions in our service. We’ve had such concerns for decades but the quality of her work has been unimpeachable the whole time.”
Caine looked intently at Leonidas, clearly curious. But there was only so much he could safely know about the source, and von Pleven had probably told him everything he needed to know. “Very good then. I think she at least deserves a service medal and file commendation for what she went through.”
“Already being taken care of,” Schulhauser intervened. “She’s the most decorated living agent in Evidenzbüro service, so I am familiar with her work and background. Her demeanor may be a matter for concern by Leonidas here, but all I care about are her results. We can trust her intelligence, though we’ve verified everything we can.”
“Of course we have, sir,” Leonidas confirmed. “If I might be allowed to continue, we’ve uncovered five salient points about the parties responsible for the construction of these ancient, incredibly advanced facilities. These Lords of Kobol, who named themselves Sarasavsati, are clearly responsible for the construction of the Olympus Mons facility here and on the duplicate Earth in the Taloran universe. The Lords of Kobol had a rival faction, represented by this... Lord Iblis character, who seem to be responsible for building the Antarctic base we recently discovered, as well as the Ceres facility and maybe the Alnitak base as well. From what Cardinal says, her particular telepathic specialty was a result of the genetic manipulations of these rivals of the Sarasavsati, for use as pleasure slaves in some sort of sadistic psychic feedback loop. Since the Colonials are known to descend from the Sarasavsati, as do the Cylons, we know that they were genetically human. And furthermore the body of Kara Thrace, a Colonial pilot inhabited by the Iblis intelligence, was said to be genetically identical to the ‘High Caste’ of his faction, we can also conclude that the Ancient rivals of the Sarasavsati were human as well.”
“You can see why I said that Cardinal’s mission represented the first breakthrough in Operation Tannhäuser in centuries, gentlemen.” Rikesgaarde stood up now, to better address the gathering. “We know that there was an advanced human civilization, divided into two factions, in ancient pre-history. We can finally assign a real name to one of the builder cultures, and know the nature of the second. The Antarctic base has provided another clue to the true history of the human race, since there are genetically coded structures that can only be activated by certain humans with a particular gene structure. Those must be the descendents of the faction represented by Lord Iblis. And we have already used our analysis of the Cylon genetic material to show that some Sarasavsati genetic material lingers in the race as well.”
“I say,” Caine began, “you think that we’re all descendents of these Saravasti or their rivals?”
“Sarasavsati,” Rikesgaarde corrected. “It seems clear that both civilizations collapsed. From Cardinal’s report it seems likely they destroyed each other, and a remnant population of both, and perhaps some other populations, became the human race of today. The Colonials of the Taloran universe apparently represented a pure Sarasavsati remnant population, which has not surfaced in our universe or any other that we know of. Which is, to put it mildly, very curious indeed.”
“We have been able to confirm a fourth ancient site on multiple earths, the tomb in the Pamirs dating back over 13,000 years with a radioactive corpse inside.” Leonidas thought this important. “Genetic analysis has been difficult, but there are conclusive Sarasavsati markers there, so we believe it represents another site dating from the ancient builder era. We have been able to confirm its existence on Earth in multiple universes, which strongly suggests that all four facilities may be present in every example of Earth in this particular local branch of the multiverse. It’s harder to confirm the existence of the other facilities without tipping off other governments, but we have managed to do so in a few cases.”
“So.” Schulhauser intervened, deciding to get to the point of the matter. “The obvious answer is that these Sarasavsati and their rivals are part of the pre-history of Earth, and that whatever point of difference exists to create all of our known universes that it comes after their extinction. But why would the Colonial remnant survivors exist in only one universe, and why are there no signs of similar facilities in the system equivalent to theirs in our universe?”
Leonidas stroked his face, trying to appear thoughtful. “Simply put, we don’t know sir. It could be that the Colonial survivors only exist in one universe due to how the odds worked out. Our best guess is that the destruction of the ancient builder civilization was, in fact, the cause of the creation of the multiverse. The energies that both factions would have thrown about would be staggering. We estimate that the destruction of that Golden Temple on the Cylon homeworld unleashed energies equal to those of the collision of the protoplanet that formed the Moon with the Earth, billions of years ago. The war that the Sarasavsati and their rivals fought must have been incredible, and I honestly have no idea how Earth could have survived such a catastrophe, or how the survivors would lose all memory of this advanced civilization.”
“Well, maybe not all memory,” Caine interrupted. “The Bible speaks of the Great Flood, unleashed by an angry God to punish the sins of humanity. The people represented by this Iblis seem to have been completely given over to sadism, to judge by how he treated Cardinal. Perhaps that’s a latent memory of the catastrophe, an allegory of man’s fall?”
“And a topic better suited to theologians,” Schulhauser dismissed. The director was rumored to be an atheist, and at any rate was relentlessly practical. “I see no way we could possibly confirm such speculation.”
Rikesgaarde stood up again, visibly excited. “Oh, there might be something sir! The Cylon we have in custody has noted a lot of similarity between Sanskrit and Sarasavsati, and began translating the Rig-Vedas into Kobolian. The Vedas have long been cited by proponents of the Ancient Uplifter theory as an example of ancestral memory of a war in space, and the Kobolian translation seems to bear that out. Lord Iblis used the term Vimana to refer to his golden fighters, the term also shows up in the Rig-Vedas meaning ‘sky chariot’ but in the translation by Biers it becomes ‘astral war machine.’ There are a few other examples I could trot out, and I would note the legend of the Deluge is found world-wide.”
Schulhauser nodded carefully. “Alright Director Rikesgaarde, that might be a more promising avenue of investigation than I anticipated. Were there any more speculations that the boffins threw out, or that come to mind to you gentlemen?”
Leonidas brought up a final time from the briefing book. “The Sarasavsati and their rivals were capable of incredible feats of genetic engineering. We’ve analyzed Cylon DNA, which we’re told represents the High Caste of the Sarasavsati, and identified any number of vast improvements over human baseline DNA. There may be a revolution in therapeutic genetic engineering if we can ever figure out how to release some of the date...” Leonidas shook his head. “Some of the techniques seem similar to how various humanoforms were manipulated. Betazeds, Vulcanoids, the Klingons from ST-3 universe... all of them seem to bear traces of ancient-builder civilization genetic manipulation. So, provisionally, some of the boffins want to assign responsibility for humanoform existence to the Sarasavsati and their rivals, and confirm the link we’d always suspected between the facility builders and the humanoform creators.”
“A bit speculative,” Schulhauser commented. “Worth exploring more, though.”
“It does occur to me that this Lord Iblis might be a major threat in the future,” Caine cut in. “Cardinal was all but subjugated, and ten trained Taloran telepaths were able to overcome him only because Cardinal exploited that perverse feedback loop. And who knows what other technological marvels he might be able to pull out?”
“It seems clear that he’s the last survivor of his race,” Leonidas observed. “That said, he was able to breed a body from among the Colonials and to duplicate his intelligence, so we can’t be sure he won’t do something of the like again. The plague we uncovered in the Antarctic base represents one of the most pressing threats possible, though the nanite-based construction yard around the Cylon homeworld would have made a potent weapon of mass destruction too. Honestly, we just don’t know what he’s capable of, and one of the boffins suggested a very unsettling similarity between the Antarctic plague and the nanite plague of Shadow origin unleashed in EM-5.”
“Surely not!” Caine objected. “Those Shadows were millions of years old. The Saravasti and their rivals couldn’t be that technologically advanced.”
“We don’t have a sample of the Shadow plague to compare to Iblis’ plague,” Leonidas noted. “But from what we have been able to learn about the Shadow plague, the boffin’s speculations were possible. There’s not a link per se, but the suggestion is that they’re of comparable sophistication...”
Schulhauser held up his hand to stop the briefing. “Obviously another task for the Field Intelligence Service. The more we learn, the more it becomes apparent that we have more to learn. I’ll be briefing His Majesty in person once I get to Vienna, and what I’ll have to say is alarming enough already. Thank you for your time, gentlemen, and if you have any final thoughts please send them to my perscom inbox.”
The meeting broke up then, after some final words of parting. It was an uneasy note to depart on, and von Pleven as the last to leave was left alone in the study to police up the briefing papers and see to their thorough destruction. It left him time to think, but as many answers as recent events had provided, there were always still more questions.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth.
-- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back.
-- Red Banner / White Star
, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.