Out past the fringes on a world run in partnership with embodied ai there is a threat coming which has already fought 3 galaxy class military cruisers. After a battle in which 2 of the ai’s ran rather than risk destruction the third sent a tightbeam containing the footage of the battle and the last backup they had to the nearest outpost. Unfortunately, at light speeds the message took 12 years to arrive and while the message was intact, the backup was incomplete. It was was clear though that the enemy had no desire to negotiate or speak and instead desired only destruction.
They spun the backup up but were disappointed to find that most of its memories of the journey out to the rim had been lost. So they had no idea what vector the threat was coming from. Central had received word from the 2 retreating ships but their telemetry was incomplete. The leader of their expedition was lost.
The leaders backup was embodied in a small vessel capable of space flight and left to its own devices. No longer relevant.
Years pass as the Ai and humans prepare for a battle they are unsure of
The little Ai is seen as an annoyance, a demenstration of the fallibility of even beings such as they.
6 years later the little ai receives a narrow beam which nearly fries his tesseract brain with an overlad of information. The remaining telemetry and backup containing a couple of years of captivity. The data is seen as suspect but they are required by law to allow the ai his memories. Now the ai is distrusted because it’s possible the memories have been tampered with
But the ai knows that what’s coming was contained in one of the tower ships commissioned by humanity to explore out beyond the fringes. Ships which came back strange and requiring human/clone crew which engage in bizzare behaviour to further some unknown goal.
One such ship resides in the ai’s system and it flies out to it after seeking the assistance of a human. Since human thoughtforms are strange and since this human was willing to listen.
They arrive and find a massive interior dedicated to some kind of game in which the humans gather some kind of power to themselves and go on a journey. Gathering more and more power until they can win the ‘game’. Everything on the ship is a game and even death is impermanent. As a new clone will be grown and the consciousness embodied there. So many deaths has resulted in a kind of memory fatigue which means it’s inhabitamts no longer realize what they were trying to win
And the most frightening thing is, this ship type was what attacked the ai fringes those many years ago