The Gift

Summary: What present does a transhuman godling get for the holidays?

You know why the galaxy of antiquity was devoid of advanced life? Or why such powerful civilizations were struck down in their prime, like the crystalline exocortex hermit crabs of Betton II or chitterlings of Arcturus IX? Because of this fellow, right here.

They were among the first sapient races to evolve in the universe, sometime in that roiling chaos of iron stars and stillborn systems. The violent supernovae of that era caused them to sleep for long periods of dormancy, so they could ride out the chaos in the voids between the stars. When one awoke, it sent out signals clearly perceptible to their kin, but scarcely noticeable to other races.

By the time they stirred, it was too late for anyone in their sights. Over the course of eons, they scoured the galaxy clean. Each time, they ensured the artifacts left behind would force technology to evolve along predictable, controllable lines.

But humanity never found their artifacts. Our system was too remote and useless as a cosmic backwater, and our stupidity saved us from stumbling onto the traps awaiting us in the Oort Cloud. We fragmented into a thousand subcultures and subspecies, advancing technologies along dozens of indescribable lines.

When we finally met, the fight was quick. This fellow's forebears never stood a chance. We scoured the galaxy of them, removing them as our ancestors treated a virus. We then did what we do best, and domesticated them.

Be glad you are still a young Jupiter brain. If you were here just ten thousand years earlier, you'd have been a human meat-monkey. You'd have been easy prey for sentient, planet-killing warships like him. If not for our ancestors' incompetence, he would not be your pet now.

Take good care of him. He sleeps a lot.