Forgotten Travellers


[Edited by vegetal AI Symanda]

Subject: Nonhuman construct/species known as the Forgotten Travellers.

"Forgotten Travellers" is the name given to a defunct civilisation that dwelled in the central bulge of the Milky Way some two million years ago. They were a seemingly artificial lifeform capable of living on planets with carbon-based or silicon-based ecosystems. Forgotten Traveller technology is hard if not impossible to distinguish from their bodies: both used a bone-like structure that relied on organic synapses to relay information and power. Forgotten Traveller artefacts and fossils have a very recognizable style owing to their tendency to present themselves as clean geometric shapes. How the Forgotten Travellers moved or communicated is unknown.

Note: the name "Forgotten Traveller" is a direct application of the Starmoth Initiative report 67-Q-C which recommends the use of adjective+noun denominations for nonhuman species. I am not a great fan.

The exact expanse of the Forgotten Travellers' empire is unknown though they once occupied a non-negligible part of the galactic centre. Given the massive stellar density of the galactic bulge, there is a possibility that the Forgotten Travellers once were the largest known spacefaring civilisation, with controlled worlds numbering in the hundreds of millions, a total far greater than what the Sequence owned at its apex. Their homeworld has yet to be located but is estimated to be somewhere near Sagittarius A*, at the exact centre of the Milky Way.

The location of the Forgotten Travellers' civilisation is somewhat unexpected as our models have always shown the galactic centre to be a hostile place for intelligent life. Though the high star density means more habitable worlds, the prevalence of gamma bursts in the region means that it is exceedingly rare to see an active biosphere existing for more than a billion years. Interestingly enough the first confirmed Forgotten Traveller ruins were found on Tyra, a world that had once been sterilized by a gamma burst.

Having survived by sheer luck the Forgotten Travellers quickly understood the precarious situation they found themselves in and responded by establishing an interstellar civilisation as fast as they could. This civilisation relied on AFAL (As Fast As Light) engines that worked by bending space and time around the ship. These engines were far more advanced than anything humankind can produce and were a direct application of what we know as the Alcubierre drive. Such technological prowess was only made possible by the capacity to produce and store unfathomable quantities of power. While it probably implies the Forgotten Travellers enjoyed a post-scarcity society, it also means their AFAL drives doubled as weapons of interstellar destruction.

Archaeological studies on Forgotten Traveller worlds show that their interstellar empire went through two distinct phases. The first and longest phase was characterized by the extreme rarity of AFAL drives through tight social and legal control. During this time period, the Forgotten Travellers expanded their bubble of controlled space to several billion systems (low estimate). The second period is much shorter, barely a few thousand years long. It is characterized by a sudden increase in AFAL activity as well as the sudden disappearance of 0.1 to 0.5% of all star systems within the galactic bulge. Historians can only speculate as to what exactly happened to the Forgotten Travellers but it is assumed that at one point in time the Forgotten Travellers made AFAL drives available to everyone which disturbed the very foundations of their society to the point planet-breaking weapons became as common as small arms in the industrial era. After a few millennia in such a state, their interstellar civilisation withered and died.

Note: 0.1 to 0.5% of all stars in the central bulge means several dozen million systems/planets. The amount of destruction carried out by the Forgotten Travellers, even if it wasn't coordinated, is truly staggering. 

Note 2: The Sequence and the Forgotten Travellers existed at the same time. Though they probably never contacted each other it is impossible the Sequence did not notice the sudden disappearance of so many stars. They may have linked this eclipse to the usage of AFAL drives which might explain why they have such hatred towards devices capable of spacetime manipulation. Maybe they think we are the Forgotten Travellers?

The sheer size of what once was the Forgotten Traveller empire means that there are still hopes of finding isolated pockets of their civilisation somewhere in the galactic bulge. So far however only ruins have been found.

Note: writings found on Tyra allude to the existence of a megastructure known as the Interdictor, which was built in the last days of the Forgotten Travellers' civilisation and aimed at preventing AFAL drives from working in its vicinity. It supposedly drew power from a black hole and was located near their homeworld. It is yet to be found.

Illustration from the Wootha Public Domain Release.

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