"We know that already." Ferris agreed.
"Mmm." Darrian with a nod.
"But it's something." Ferris added. "They were all from the same batch, right? Theoretically they have the same purpose."
"A reasonable assumption." Illiquina confirmed.
She let out a sigh and seemed to consider their two expectant gazes.
"Well, the original batch consisted of a dozen units." Illiquina began. "Much like other robots from that era, they were identical in appearance, if not design."
"At that time, they were pretty much just referred to by a basic code designation: DR." she continued. "After reviewing the files, I'm thinking that the old judge might have been DR-5. Not that it matters."
"DR?" Darrian asked.
"So they were meant for diplomacy." Ferris observed. "Somehow I expected something a little more vile."
Illiquina snickered to herself and tapped a few things on her datapad.
"Diplomacy has many purposes, Rodent." she shot back snidely.
Ferris begun to huff up at her aside, but Darrian weakly waved a hand at him. He didn't have the patience for their back and forth at the moment.
"What do you mean?" he asked weakly.
"I mean that people can use diplomacy for different things." Illiquina repeated.
"That doesn't..." Darrian began.
"They were designed to get something from someone." Ferris clarified.
"Not just someone, but many someones." Illiquina confirmed.
"You have to remember: this was the very beginning of the Consortium. The Merrenians had just discovered a half a dozen different races, all who had active war machines and armadas that vastly rivaled anything of their own." she continued. "But there was one thing that your species had that no other did."
"Robots?" Ferris asked.
"True, you had a mastery of robotics." Illiquina said with a nod. "Your evolution had demanded that for your exosuits."
"More than that though." she said with a look of mild disgust. "The Merrenians were incredibly cunning and wonderful at wheedling what they wanted out of others."
"But...what did they want?" Darrian thought out loud.
"Sounds like not getting caught in a six species war was a good goal." Ferris remarked.
"Water." Illiquina said simply.
Darrian and Ferris glanced at each other.
"Water?" they asked in unison.
"Goals don't change much do they." Illiquina remarked.
"Well. We all use water, don't we?" asked Darrian.
"Now we do. But Merrenains were the first to really utilize water on a mass scale. It served a million purposes. But just like today it was an essential component in the cooling systems for Merrenian robotics and industrial capabilities."
Darrian nodded softly but Ferris looked confused.
"Things haven't changed much that way." she added in that way.
"What's that mean?" Ferris questioned.
"I means that the Merrenians still hold stakes in seventy percent of the galactic water stakes." she shot back with just a hint of anger.
Darrian had never considered it before, but figured she must be right. He also doubted that Illiquina would embellish such a fact even with her occasional temper.
"Ok. We wanted water." Ferris snapped back quickly. "Hell. If I remember my history classes correctly, the discovery of water was what drove us off planet. But what do the DR robots have to do with that?"
"Because what better way to get what we need than to take it from others?" Darrian said thoughtfully. The words were slow but weighed heavy on his mind.
Illiquina gave a little nod.
"And what's better way to take from others?" she said coolly. "Than to have it given freely."
They sat there in silence for a minute, considering what had been said. Darrian felt like lightning was jolting through his brain. Even with the sludge of exhaustion, the wheels began to turn again.
"The Consortium's whole purpose...was to steal water? To take it from the other species?"
"It's not like it says in the file." Illiquina said. "And it's not like the Consortium hasn't done wonderful things. But everything points to that. That and keeping the other species relatively passive to avoid unnecessary cost or wars."
He couldn't believe what was being said. Thousands of rotations of peace and prosperity. Born of simple avarice.
It was just too much to take in.
"Then the old judge is just the last of the DR robots?" Ferris asked curiously. "The last remnant?"
"Yes." Illiquina confirmed. "But I think it might be more than that."
"Well, I can't confirm without the Judge's profile...or the Guillae's..."
Darrian tilted his head in curiosity at the mention of the plant people.
"But I think the old judge stood out among his 'brothers'." Illiquina said quietly. "I think he was special in some way the others weren't."
Start at the Beginning