“This plan is plain stupid” Telara said, her two right fists raised and joined in a typical and somewhat forced expression of frustration.
On the other side of the large oblong table, Antara twisted her lip as she looked at her longtime rival with non-feigned disdain.
“Perhaps Councilor Telara would care to explain the reasons for her assessment?” Antara said. “That is, if she has any”
“Do I need to?” Telara said, opening her bottom arms as she kept the top ones crossed. “I think that it should be rather obvious to the council”
There were mixed reactions in the table. Some clearly sided with Telara, while everyone on Antara’s faction made an effort to look as scorned as their leader. At the top of the table, the Overseer remained silent, unmoving.
“Perhaps…” someone started from the far side of the table. “Perhaps, rather than discussing the effectiveness of different plans we should take a step back and evaluate if we need any plans to start with? Why shouldn’t we leave the humans alone?”
The Overseer raised her bottom right hand and everyone else knew better than to say anything. They just waited for her to start speaking with a soft voice that nonetheless carried to every spot on the large table.
“That is not an option, Councilor Nayara, and you know it. Ignoring the threat humans pose to our race would be unacceptable negligence. They need to be stopped. The Council has already voted on this several times, and our position is clear”
“My faction has already presented enough evidence to prove that the Council is overestimating the threat posed by humans” she said.
It was not the Overseer who replied, this time. A quite more excited councilor stood up and used a louder than usual tone to address Nayara:
“Your proof just shows what you want it to show, Councilor. This Council has gone over it many more times than it should have been necessary. Your faction and you can continue to conveniently ignore the reports from the Board, but this Council cannot ignore the fact that humans are predicted to start the colonization of other planets in less than a century. And that once they spread in multiple start systems, any attempts at stopping their progress will be useless”
“It should have taken them considerably longer. If only someone had not given them nuclear energy…” Antara said in a sarcastic tone.
Telara stood up, clearly upset at the comment.
“Humans have used nuclear weapons against themselves multiple times, and they have been close to use them in mass scale several others” she said.
Antara’s ears moved in a typical sign of mockery as she replied:
“Only they have not. And they have enjoyed nuclear energy for over fifty years. And gained an understanding of the atom that they should not have reached for another two centuries. Without nuclear energy, humans would not even be dreaming of long distance space travel, right now”
“You can mock me as much as you want, but there are nuclear weapons in the hands of more humans every year. It is just a matter of time before they use them” Telara said.
“Councilor, your faith that your plan will eventually succeed is disheartening, honestly. Does the Councilor need me to remind the basic rules of socio-history for her?” Antara asked.
Telara was visibly pissed off. She could have killed her with her look. Still, she managed to hold off and muttered between teeth:
“Perhaps the Councilor would be so kind as to enlighten me and the Council?” Then, she added: “And maybe the Councilor could also enlighten us on why the plan being proposed today does not suffer from the same flaws”
“I am grateful for the chance to provide some more details on my plan” Antara said. “Especially considering how it has been so promptly disregarded by some Councilors without having them. Regarding our previous lack of success, I just wanted to point out that a basic socio-historic analysis would have predicted the current situation with significant accuracy”
Antara stood up before going ahead with the explanation. She knew she had the attention of the Council. She was surprised at how clumsy Telara had been, giving her the chance to rip her plans in front of the rest of Councilors. Basic courtesy rules in the Council would have prevented her to discuss old settled matters in any other situation.
“Much like us and much unlike any other sentient species we have found so far, humans lack a hive mind or anything even remotely close to it. And with their home planet as populated as it is, there are enough individuals so that socio-historical probability equations can predict outcomes with very high accuracy. Nuclear energy definitely has the potential of destroying humanity. The flaw in your plan, Councilor, is that in order for this to happen, you need a significant number of humans to use it with destructive purposes. You incorrectly assumed that human nature would be enough for this to happen. The problem is that you analyzed human nature in an individual way and extrapolated your results to the entire population. And while individual humans are definitely capable of using nuclear weapons to kill those other individuals they consider their enemies, no human faction will take action that will result in its own destruction. You tried to overcome that by making sure that different human factions would have access to nuclear weapons, expecting mutual destruction as a result. Instead, you just created a deterrent for each of these factions to use their weapons on the other. Giving nuclear weapons just to one of the factions would not have granted any better results, though. In that scenario, that faction would have easily prevailed, joined humanity under a single rule and kept on the path of evolution that would have eventually led to inter-stellar expansion. In both cases, humanity gets nuclear energy as a prize, accelerating their scientific progress significantly. Any socio-history specialist with a bit of talent would have been able to run the equations for you and anticipate these conclusions”
There were some murmurs all around the table as Telara looked at her rival with fire in her eyes. She was about to speak when another councilor spoke up.
“We are always limiting ourselves. Humans are the most serious threat we’ve found since the War. Direct intervention is justified!”
Everyone shut up when the Overseer raised her hand again.
“It’s not for us to question Scripture. We ignored it once and the War almost finished our species. It won’t be ignored again”
Then, the Overseer stood up. Everyone else did almost at the same time. She said:
“We shall not be known”
The rest of the Council repeated the first rule in the Scripture in unison:
“We shall not be known”
When everyone had sat down again, Councilor Telara raised a hand and when she had everyone’s attention, she said:
“I thank Councilor Antara for sharing her conclusions with this Council. I do not necessarily agree with them, especially considering that similar courses of action have proven effective in several other occasions. Nonetheless, I admit that the Councilor’s analysis has merit and I wanted to inquire on the reasons why the plan the Councilor has presented today would not be affected by the same problems, in the Councilor’s opinion”
Antara stood up. Could Telara really be so stupid? She was serving her victory in a silver platter. Looking at both sides in a dignified way, she opened her four arms and said:
“With pleasure, Councilor. The foundation of my plan is simple; the analysis on what’s needed in order to stop human progress is not. Our objective is clear: we need to make sure that humans stay confined in their planet and that any progress towards space exploration or travel is stopped. And our rules require that they do that by themselves. Our attempts so far have been unsuccessful, and the basic reason behind has always been the same. There are too many humans and they all have individual thought processes. The plans that we have tried to implement can be basically be classified in two groups: giving them the tools to destroy themselves or helping the wrong individuals to rise to positions of power. Plans based on giving them weapons have all failed for the same reasons nuclear energy was unsuccessful. Plans trying to affect their social organization have failed because human society is so fragmented that no single leader can have enough momentum to deviate it from its progress course in a sustained way. Bad leaders will eventually get replaced or human factions with incompetent leaders will eventually be overridden by other human factions with more competent ones. This has happened all through human history. Some plans have tried to make the wrong people rise and to give their faction the necessary tools, but once more, the complexity of human social organizations has made these attempts short lived, as leaders have been overthrown by their own factions and tools have ended spreading to the rest of humanity”
Antara stopped a moment for everyone to understand what she had said so far.
“Once this conclusion has been reached, my plan is simple. Our rules require humans to stall or destroy themselves. But their self-preservation instinct and their social complexity will prevent them from that. There is only one solution: to choose the right individual and to give her the tools to prevail over the rest of humanity by herself. Only by doing this we can ensure that social complexity will not bring our chosen individual down and that human self-preservation instinct will not refrain her from taking any action. My plan has this into account and because of this, my plan is the first real chance we have at stopping human progress”
Antara smiled and then sat down. Councilors from her faction started clapping. She enjoyed the general looks of approval from the Council, even from some of the members of Telara’s faction. Telara herself looked both confused and angry. When Antara saw her rival standing up and realized that she was going to speak while still considerably upset, she could not prevent a smile.
“Your words sound appealing, Councilor. But still, a quick read of your plan is enough to realize how ridiculous it is. Our species has always prided in stealth and discretion, yet what you propose is… obscene!”
Antara did not care to stand up this time. She just dismissed Telara’s criticism with a wave of her bottom right hand and said:
“If the Councilor cared to read the operational details on my plan and the detailed reports in Appendixes A and B, I would be happy to discuss them with her. In the meantime, I would hate to waste the time of the rest of the Councilors who have obviously read the plan in its entirety”
Telara was to stand up again when the Overseer raised a hand and everyone shut up.
“There has been enough discussion. We will put Councilor Antara’s plan to a vote”
A minute later, the plan was approved by an overwhelming majority and Antara was being congratulated by several Councilors as Telara and a reduced group from her faction left the Council chambers, visibly upset.