Suddenly, all you see is the visible light of pure cosmos.

An endless ocean of stars extends across the span of your disembodied perspective. Some are bright, some are suspended inside of bright pools of nebulae and star clusters, and none of them could ever be touched. Out here, there is truly nothing but light. Not even dust. You wonder: why were you brought here?


A peculiar nothingness passes across your view. Slowly. The dark shape seems to absorb the stellar backdrop as it eclipses stars in the unreachable distance. But there is no detail within it; the form is utterly black.

Then, you look to the side. (Is it right or left? Do you even contain a gyroscope here?)

A thousand miles away, a machine the size of a terrestrial minivan drifts towards this nothingness. You can sense the signals emanating from the device; it is a neuromorphic robot, but different from any that you have met before. Two thrusters and a set of structurally questionable manipulator arms… it is a voidbot, designed for the cold emptiness of space.

A long time passes as the robot continues to move towards the form. Evidently, the machine does not wish to be discovered, as it is almost as cold as the object in front of you, swapping speed for stealth by limiting its thrust. Eventually, the robot comes near, and… clang.

The machine smashes into one of the ominous form’s metallic sides, but gracefully, suggesting this is far from the first time it has done so. As the robot’s floodlight splashes over the side, you can now clearly see the actual shape of the dark object. A stamped placard, written in a Martian dialect of Japanese, is lit enough to read…


The robot carefully pulls an access panel from the side of the structure, unreels a telescoping cable from within, and jams it into one of several unique sockets in their torso. In an instant, the structure roars to life. A strip of white-green lights on each side of the triangular form light up in series as motors within begin to whirr.

WARNING! Device at provided point is known to be under ALTITUDE OBSERVATION. This is an ENEMY NETWORK! Do you wish to proceed?

The robot performs the digital equivalent of a head tilt, appearing to find this automated alert amusing. For this particular unit, the hard-coded concept of an “enemy” had become antiquated a very long time ago.

With a few puffs from a set of well-hidden thrusters, the satellite spins into position, aiming itself towards a new point in the distance. The moment it settles, an avalanche of invisible photons erupt from an emitter deep within the enormous machine, carrying a message that you somehow know, though there is no way you could.

The communication relay is silent for hours as the voidbot remains almost completely motionless, observing the starscape. Occasionally, the machine pivots its head to track a thumper riding a nuclear blastwave somewhere off in the distance, or transmissions emanating from a collective of voidbots. What seems like an endless nothing to you is a hive of bustling activity to this machine. After all, what is distance besides an arbitrary amount of clock time and reaction mass? The two of you wait.

Finally, a blip in the system. Somewhere on the surface of the satellite, a new light begins to blink as the enormous receiver picks up on a transmission originating somewhere in the vicinity of Saturn’s great rings.

The voidbot instantly shudders in physical space, its excitement and joy palpable.

RATIO halts in stunned silence, processing their predicament for several real time seconds. Their coolant system began to cycle faster, their radiators glowed bright red, until it all clicked.

The voidbot moves to disengage the connection, but stops mid-motion, sensing an opportunity that might not come around again. Worth a shot?