"The best way to resolve any face-off with sudden death is the outcome that allows you to leave alive." -Observer Riaz, Personal Journal

To Save Civilization

As the total number of people on the planet dropped, Riaz and the Kaling siblings inquired when they would be allowed to leave.

You will leave once the evacuation is done. I've instituted a plan to help civilization survive.

A little late for that, isn't it?

You could have saved us the whole time, and now you tell us of something else?

Andart, continue. In what sense to you mean help civilization survive? Sivad and the Hierarch aren't going to be very receptive to that idea. Especially with this galaxy next on the menu.

Due to cutting the auxlinks and preventing any new ones from opening, I effectively isolated this system. The only option for the Hierarch to get us is to broadcast a cyberattack or send a physical warhulk to attack us. Both of those options are constrained by the speed of light. Given the light years of separation between this system and its nearest neighbors, that gives us a few years to prepare, at a minimum.

So we'd have a few years to evacuate? Then why the rush?

Safety first. The faster we get more people out, the sooner we'll able to collapse the sub-line links. Then they won't ever be able to get us.

But seriously? What's this about saving civilization?

I recalled when I was on Moravec, I saw some strange data sent to a large nanofabber in this system. So might these two be related?

Yes, Riaz. As you know, the nanofabber on the edge of this system is not a heavy-duty one. But it is sufficient for my purposes. This system's location near the edge of the galaxy turned out to be advantageous after all.

Did you launch some sort of weapon against the Galactophage itself?

No. I created my own tabernacle-equipped, self-replicating space probes. Improvements over the ones that brought us to this galaxy. Better survival rate, more uploaded minds stored inside, and new technologies. These are able to open auxlinks to communicate with each other. Plus set up their own sub-line universes.

But how's this help civilization?

The Galactophage has one weakness, and that's speed. These probes are each barely a few centimeters long, and can travel at relativistic velocities. They will be able to make it to new galaxies, create archai-level civilizations, and send out tabernacle probes of their own. To say nothing of possibly creating a truly-intergalactic civilization, since they already have on board transluminal auxlinks.

So our descendants will be forever out-running the Galactophages?

Yes. But in the process, they'll hopefully be able to help other sapient species escape. And due to communications, they will be much more readily share information with each other.

So they can compare notes? And find out how to defeat the Galactophages?

You are being overly optimistic here. I anticipate that these probes will be able to help ensure civilizations like ours continue, and they have a means of continued survival. Just because we loose one galaxy does not mean it's the end of the universe.

How about you, though? Did you upload a copy of yourself into these new probes?

Of course. And ones of you, as well. I am sure my future copy will find your future copies invaluable in their objectives. But for now, we need to worry about saving this one planet.

Finding the archai's explanation satisfactory, Riaz and the Kaling siblings continued the evacuations of the remaining inhabitants. Once they had cleared out the remainders, it was time for them to leave. Tare and Nova Kaling eagerly uploaded themselves into the sub-line. The several bodies of Riaz all looked around at the terranova one last time. Sivad and the Hierarch were still out there, but they would be Galactophage food some day. As Riaz prepared to upload himself to the sub-line, he recalled a line he had once thought: "Run, and don't look back." Both he, and countless future copies of him, would live, and likely die, but that maxim. Riaz readied himself for uploading, and left the world behind him. Andart followed, and closed the sub-line links behind them.