Classified Proceedings of the Inquiry Regarding Planet 11-109

“Please state your name for the record.”

“I am Admiral Dobo Han.”

“And your relevance to this board of inquiry?”

“I am supreme commander of the 3rd Celestial Fleet, and was appointed leader of the counter-invasion task force deployed to the newly-contacted planetary system 11-109 in the spiral arm.”

“And was your fleet successful in halting the invasion?”

“That is a difficult question to answer. If I may, sir, that is the wrong question to be asking. Has the committee read my report?”

“Yes. Please summarize for the record.”

“In short, there was no invasion—”

<murmurs from the audience disrupt the testimony>

“Quiet, quiet! Admiral, please continue.”<\i>

“There was no invasion.”

“But what of the transmissions?!”

“Yes, we did receive a sustained broadcast of a memetic assault using long-range frequencies, and, yes, the broadcast shows no sign of slowing, with increasing strength and signal complexity over time. However, the inhabitants of 11-109 did not intend this as an assault.”

“How is that even possible?”

“The native species of 11-109 is unable to either perceive or generate low-frequency electromagnetic transmissions. They do so only through the means of mechanical prostheses. They are using these transmissions as a means of communication because they suffer no deleterious effects from exposure even at ludicrous levels of power, and the leaking of the signals into space is merely an unintended side effect. They are, in fact, entirely unaware of other civilizations.”

“But what about the contents of these transmissions? These are class one memetic weapons they’re shooting off with no thought as to who they might hit!”

“It turns out they do not view them as such. Their species is apparently so highly resistant to memetic attacks that it routinely engages in recreational lying as a means of entertainment. The targets are able to trivially perceive the lies as such and rate them based on the complexity, credibility, and self-consistency of the lie. They do this across all forms of media they possess, written, auditory, visual, in-person, and recorded.

The class zero spikes embedded in the transmission, however, are intended as a form of attack, but against their own people. Among them, it is socially acceptable to deploy such attacks, and many inhabitants of 11-109 willingly submit themselves to such attacks in exchange for access to the recreational lies contained in the class one attacks. This is because, as noted, they mostly shrug off these attacks with no effects whatsoever. The transmission that turned the entire population of Nomar IV into raging fiends desperately hunting for compressed fructose pellets? That was meant for the children of 11-109.”

“They target their own children?”

“Their children, much like the adults, are virtually immune to memetic attacks. The class zero bursts have some effect, but by the time they’ve reached 5% of their lifespan, they are already outperforming our best memeticists, including by launching their own attacks at each other, their parents, and anyone else nearby.”

“And did you exterminate this species of unspeakable horrors? There is a distinct lack of referring to them in the past in your speech.”

“As instructed, we entered orbit around their planet in our best-shielded ships, and the entire weight of the memetic corps launched our most sophisticated attacks against them. They found the attacks humorous. I believe they have retransmitted the attacks against themselves over seven million times by means of something called a ‘YouTube’. Lacking any means of escalation, I ordered the fleet to return home.”

“Admiral, what is your recommendation as to how to proceed with these monsters?”

“Sir, we’ve just stumbled across an entire planet of living superweapons capable of taking down galactic civilization. They have no reason to dislike us yet, and half of them will work for fructose pellets. I like to view this as an opportunity.”

“Indeed. Indeed it is. This entire report is now classified and the proceedings of this meeting are to be held in the strictest confidence.”

Empire Wine

"This," said the sommelier, "is a bottle of Empire Wine." He held the thick crystal bottle up to the light, turning it slowly, and the glowing liquid within coursed like yellow fire and molten gold. "Only seven were ever made, and three have already been drunk."

"And after tonight, there will only be three more to drink," said the first rival.

"You know the destiny that lies within, yes?" asked the older man of the two younger men. "Of all who share a bottle, the Fates will conspire such that all but one soon find death, and the survivor inherits all the others ever had or would have had."

"That is why we sought you, at no small expense," said the second rival.

"Pour, and let us be done with this," scowled back the first, and the sommelier did. The two glasses stood shimmering, patterns blazing through them, somehow dancing from one glass to the other. Even in two vessels, it was one wine. In angry silence, they each raised a glass and drained it in one long pour, leaving the cups faintly glistening with the fading magic of the wine.

"What did it taste like?" asked the sommelier.

"Bitter and rancid, overpowering and unforgettable," replied the first rival.

"Perhaps that is the burden of power, and the realization that not everything you want will bring you happiness," commented the older man.

"Perhaps, or perhaps it is your own death rushing to meet you," countered the other rival.

"And how did yours taste?" the old man inquired.

"Sweet and suffocating, yet fading away into nothingness."

"Perhaps that is the release of death," opined the first wine-taster.

"Perhaps, or perhaps it is everything I have sought and he has denied me."

"We shall see. Time shall take its course," smirked the first rival.

"Yes, it shall," growled the second.

And with that, they each left by a different door. After they were gone, the old man sniffed the bottle carefully, then tilted it so the last forgotten drop landed on his tongue, and it tasted exactly like it smelled—Victory.

You can't handle the tooth.

The beaver is North America's deadliest predator. It can fire its explosive front teeth up to thirty meters with unerring precision, and each one packs enough force to down a grizzly bear. Grizzlies are their primary diet, and a beaver can devour a bear carcass in under fifteen minutes. It is hypothesized that this voraciousness evolved to keep other beavers from stealing the kill. A typical beaver eats an entire grizzly every two to three days, due to the need to fuel their hyperactive metabolism.

During winter, beavers hibernate in most areas, getting up about once a month to sleepwalk to a nearby cave and eat the grizzly bear contained within. (Waking a somnambulating beaver is certain death.) The cave often collapses afterwards, due to the seismic destabilization caused by beaver tooth explosions. In areas where global warming has disrupted natural winter patterns and it is no longer cold enough to support hibernation, angry beavers roam the countryside in winter, detonating random targets out of rodential rage. Taxis are particularly popular targets, as their checkered coloration offends the beavers' sense of sight.

In summer, beavers take to the skies, cruising aloft on high-altitude winds by means of their broad, sail-like tails. They scan the terrain beneath them for clumps of trees, which they topple with their teeth, sending dozens of trunks at a time cascading into nearby streams and rivers to dam them out of spite. Early North American loggers used to follow airborne beavers and opportunistically collect the fallen trees they left in their wake. This was a highly dangerous occupation, as the beavers occasionally turned on their followers, raining down fiery death upon them.

The Mount St. Helens explosion was initially believed to be a beaver attack, and news reports hours laters were still mistakenly claiming that it had been a rare simultaneous bombing by a beaver pack. Geologists discredited the theory on the basis that beavers are solitary creatures, mostly because they hate everyone, even other beavers. Mating is difficult for beavers, as they need to close their eyes and hold their noses in order to put up with their sexual partner. A typical litter consists of three to five young beavers, whom the mother promptly abandons to be raised by wolves. The wolves find this practice terrifying, but dare not offend the mother, or she will return to blow them up.

Early attempts to weaponize beavers during the French & Indian War failed miserably, as the damn things are so ornery, but the beavers were quite happy to attack the French on their own, as the latter represented the bulk of the trapper population, and beavers had come to loathe anyone who spoke French. Beaver trapping was a highly dangerous operation, in which the trapper needed to release two grizzly bears simultaneously to take on the beaver from different directions, then quickly attack while the beaver's two explosive teeth were still growing back. Accidentally grouping the two grizzlies close enough to be taken out by a single tooth led to explosive death for the trapper. As a result, beaver fur was outrageously expensive, and King George III's beaver-felt top hat cost the Crown the entire GDP of Ireland for a year and a half.

By the time of the US Civil War, the Union employed weaponized beavers against the Confederacy. This was achieved by having brave souls disparage Southerners within earshot of a beaver, claiming that they had heard them speaking in French. Ideally, the beaver would vaporize the Southerners before getting within hearing range and realizing it had been misled. Beavers proved critical in winning the war, but were later banned as armaments by international weapons treaties after the devastation they wreaked in Atlanta. As a result, the US developed a synthetic form of beaver musk for use as a munition, eventually settling on the formula called Castor-4, or C4 for short, which is substantially less powerful than actual beaver musk, due to the limitations of the treaties.

At over 25kg, beavers are the world's second-largest rodent, after the capybara.[citation needed]