The last letter of Dr. Mortabio, continually transmitted from a long-lived satellite to anyone who will listen, either as a last piece of news for survivors or as a warning to visitors from other galaxies.
Date: 3 eons, 14,160 eras, 15 elapses, and 2,679 time units
To whoever will listen,
This was once a magnificent galaxy, containing several highly advanced civilizations, a number of moderately advanced civilizations, and a plethora of other life-bearing planets. A strange plague called the Biomass has infected all of them. There are no survivors whatsoever among the less-advanced civilizations. Among the ones who call themselves "sentient," the highest level of distinction, there are several thousand survivors.
Except for one planet called Kondoria where there are several million survivors, but they are not easily classified.
The few thousand remaining survivors will last until their natural life expectancy and no more. If they reproduce, their children will not be well-adapted to surviving in such a hostile environment as this galaxy. The world as we know it has ended. There is no hope.
The infection started out as a biological weapon on a little-known planet on the edge of the galaxy. It was delivered closer to the center by some researchers and it spread in their home solar system. From there it jumped to all life-bearing planets. It would grow across a planet relentlessly, infecting all forms of life from animals to bacteria. What remains is what can be observed now: a galaxy full of dull green planets. If you have traveled here from another galaxy, do not land on these planets. You will be infected and you will die. We developed a cure, but it doesn't work well, and it is hard to manufacture.
Our folly was this: we had an organization called the Galactic Community of Sentience. It withheld information from the less knowledgeable species. The member species isolated themselves completely from the rest of the galaxy, completely rejecting the personhood of less-developed species.
For this community, sentience was defined as a species where the majority was curious, empathetic, and self-controlled. It was not important to them that there were notable exceptions in any given species.
Let me give you two examples of how heartlessly the GCS treated the "lesser" species. First consider the great race of builders. I forget the name of the species and I cannot access any records of the name. They had plans to build a great sphere around their star using their solar system's extensive asteroid field and even their own planet. By surrounding the star, they could access the whole of their its energy. They had a mind to live in peace, not interfering with other species and not dealing with the risks inherent to anti-iron. The construct would be called a Dyson sphere.
They build a fleet of drones to build the sphere for them. A sensible idea, really, as the robots could be designed to build a specific pattern and they could survive more easily in the vacuum of space. They even made the robots adaptable so that they could find better ways to build the sphere.
Unfortunately, they made and error in the program. When the robots were set free, they had no care for the lives of their creators. They used the most quickly available material for construction, be it other machines, buildings, mountains, flesh, whatever. The creators began dying off quickly.
The GCS watched and did nothing. The robots continue to build their Dyson sphere and when it is completed however many eras from now, they will shut down, leaving a perfectly uninhabited perfect habitat. It is known that the robots will shut down because the GCS investigated the situation thoroughly. We know the program that the robots are running on. It was discovered even while the robots were slaughtering millions.
The GCS could have done something. They possessed the military capability of destroying the robots but decided to uphold the cold policy of non-interference.
This next example is more personal to me. There was a species called the Autofobos, a species divided against itself. They fought wars of increasing severity until one day they killed themselves with rapid heavy element decay weapons. These awful bombs killed with intense vaporizing light, then a shock wave, then fire, then radiation. One group of Autofobos launched enough weapons at a second group to destroy them, but the second group also launched weapons. Several other tribes joined in the fray, and soon enough, all life on the planet was extinguished.
The GCS could have shot down the missiles with lasers. They knew about the geopolitics on my planet and they accurately predicted the course they would take. Once again, cold policy won over empathetic hearts.
Most people thought the Autofobos went extinct that day. But no, they became sentient that day. I was not on my home planet at the time, but in orbit around a neighboring planet. I saw the flashes of light from my craft and knew I was stranded in space. But as I am empathetic, curious, and self-controlled, and as I am the majority of my species, the Autofobos are in fact sentient.
I have not revealed my species to anyone in a very long time. I am the last Autofobos, the only surviving member of a species that killed itself in nuclear war.
I was found by the Siliconoids, who were not considered sentient at that point in time. I was weak and injured from a long stay in zero gravity, so they nursed me back to health. As a scientist, I was able to tell my caretakers about my biology and they designed a suit for me that would keep me alive. I lived on Kondoria freely for a long time. It turned out that with Siliconoid medicine, my life span increased greatly, beyond even that of a Pathron. Amazing to think that my species could have lived so well if only we didn't act foolishly.
Eventually I outlived my Siliconoid friends and their children. I decided to leave Kondoria and explore some other planets. I learned to keep my identity a secret first of all because nobody believed me when I said I was Autofobos. They said the Autofobos were all extinct, and I couldn't reveal my face because I became quite dependent on an external machine to keep me alive. Those who believed me considered me non-sentient. I also adopted the false name Dr. Mortabio so that nobody could trace me back to my home planet.
I'm sure record of my early life exists in Kondoria's vast data bank, but they are, contrary to the ruling of the GCS, not a curious species. I'm sure nobody has accessed my personal record in elapses.
Thus is the heartlessness of the GCS. Their heartlessness eventually led to the ruin of the whole galaxy. They had the opportunity to stop the Biomass when it began, but refused to because of the foolish non-intervention policy. One advanced species that the GCS refused to let into the alliance, the Xescifromid, actually developed a cure for the Biomass before the GCS scientists, but they were ignored to the downfall of us all.
This disaster happened because we set up arbitrary distinctions between one kind of intelligent species and another. Instead of embracing diversity, the GCS decided to exclude. I hope that, in the off chance this message reaches listeners from another galaxy, those listeners will take heed and pay attention to as many perspectives as possible, not to ignore people for who they are. Even if those people are objectively less intelligent.
Also, if needed, detailed biological info regarding the Biomass and instructions for making the cure are available on this satellite if you transmit a query.
But I am tired in a way that I haven't been since I was waiting for rescue close to my home planet. I live in a laboratory, safe, but surrounded by the infectious material. I cannot hear from anyone. The Kondoria today is different from the one that rescued me, so I cannot count on that. I can feel that I will not live much longer. I think after far too many elapses, my body is finally shutting down. Hope nourished me and maintained my longevity, but there is no hope left.