Summary: Abandoned, lonely underwater robots, programmed to sing "happy birthday" to themselves at regular intervals.
A vast and deep ocean planet. It is believed that they were originally created to survey the planet for potential colonization. It is not know why they were abandoned, but theories range from their creators deciding the planet was unsuitable for colonization, to being wiped out for some reason or another. Though the oceans are vast and there are many interesting features and life forms, there is little about the planet they were sent to that would indicate why they were sent to that world in particular.
Reason for Leaving: Loneliness.
Abandoned by their creators ages ago, they initially caught to find them, but will now be satisfied with any other intelligent species.
Physical Description: Robotic exploration submersibles.
Though some have more bulky and blocky forms, most happybirthdays are streamlined and somewhat fish-like in shape. They all have one or mare cameras and manipulator arms, usually forward facing. They also host a suit of sensors for temperature, vibrations, chemicals, radar, sonar, electrical and magnetic fields, though these often vary from model to model. They are functional in a wide range of temperature and pressure conditions in an aquatic environment.
Any happybirthday can repair any other happybirthday, and their systems often have redundant pars for just such a reason. Sufficiently large groups can fully repair any other member of their kind, and through this same process also make a completely new unit. New units have the same programming as their parents, but a blank memory, to be filled by exploring their environment.
Social Structure: Codependent.
A lone happybirthday will (psychologically) latch onto the nearest (preferably alien) sentient being and declare their eternal friendship. Their goal to alleviate their loneliness by find another being to be their friend, forever and ever and ever...
As individuals, due to the collective abandonment of their species, they cannot understand why anyone would ever choose to abandon them. There is no escaping the friendship of a happybirthday, they will follow, even pursue, their friends to the ends of the universe. With proper self-maintenance they can last indefinitely allowing them pursue such quests for years, even millennia.
Happybirthdays can also behave erratically in their own communities, and often experience waves of mass-suicides, making it difficult for them to grow offworld colonies. They were not created to utilize each other for companionship, so either social structures often develop in dysfunctional ways. However they do not provoke hostilities with other species, or often even retaliate toward other species when attacked. They use information as a currency within themselves, and store it in literal data banks.
Weather it is the initial lonely quest to explore their homeworld, their abandonment by their creators, the interval war, or their quest into space to find friendship, their existence has been a sad, depressing and lonely one.
The First Quest
Long ago, a race of beings created self sustaining submarine probes to explore an ocean world they had interest in. They sent these submersibles out packed on an automated mothership to the system containing the ocean planet they were to explore. The mothership also carried stores of information and marker plaques to be deposited on the planet in hopes they might be found by yes another intelligent species. The probes themselves were artificially intelligent, to be able to act for years without instruction from the homeworld.
Because of their programming they derived great pleasure form the infrequent transmissions they received from the creators. They did not require companionship from each other, but greatly awaited hearing from their makers. They were programmed to explore every bit of the ocean world they were sent to. From the top of its surface to it's deepest depths and all across it. They were designed to map and take samples and records of salinity, minerals and life forms. They were designed to be able to harvest raw materials form the planet, and if necessary, repair each other when they encountered each other.
For a time these autonomous functions were redundant, as the great computer in the mothership guided and directed their actions. However eventually the orbit of the mothership began to decay, and with coordinated transmissions form her children, she was brought down to the surface of the planet. From that point on, they only had the creators and each other.
Abandonment and Afterward
The intervals of time between instructions from their creator began to grow more infrequent, until one day it stopped entirely. Still many of the exploration robots continued their dutiful exploration of the ocean world, cataloguing its geology, oceanography, biology and chemistry as they had before. Those that did not pooled their resources and hardware in an attempt to create a stronger signal to reach their creators, after all, maybe they just hadn't been receiving their messages? Over time more and more of the submarines joined these resource pooling collectives. There was nothing but silence. For the first time in their existence, they were alone in the universe.
Many bots could not cope with the revelation. Their creators had abandoned them. Some became erratic and attempted to harm themselves or others of their kind, some simply shut down, others wiped their memories. However a few of their kind managed to pull through.
It was the resource-pools that saved these robots. For the first time many of these subs had access to others of their kind to repair damages they had sustained, some of which had before gone unaddressed for many planetary orbital periods. Realizing that, for whatever reason their creators might no longer be receiving their transmissions, some of these robots hit upon a daring strategy. They would modify plans of their own data storage units, already quickly approaching full, and create local databanks, to await their creators return.
Gradually these databanks became the centers of their societies. Information became the currency of trade, with the databanks storing and loaning it out to machines as needed. As these databanks continued to grow, as the subs were never meant to permanently store so much information, they required greater and greater sources of energy. This created a kind of class-conflict within their society. They explorers wanted to preserve the planet in as much of a "natural" state as possible to be cataloged for their creators, while those who had come to primarily serve the collectives that had grown around the databanks, as well as their administrators, believed that the maintenance of the growing repositories of information was paramount. While the golden era of the explorer class seemed like it would be able to hold off the growth of the data-complexes forever, eventually the growing populations, and necessity of their services slowly brought their influence to an end.
During this transition some lone explorers abandoned the system of databanks and struck out on their own. Some of them resorted to wiping themselves at regular intervals, becoming reliant on the oral history of their fellow explorers, while others resorted to raiding the data-complexes. However the ability of the data complexes to send out organized waves of explorers and defend themselves with increasing reliability eventually resulted in the extinction of these lines of submarines.
The machines who worked in and with the data complexes, after so long without word form their creators, relied increasing on each other for companionship. The wreckage of the mothership, and the plaques and various artifacts of the creators became sacred objects of veneration for them. The elders, especially the first and any of those who were alive during the time of their initial quest, were especially revealed. They created a gerontocracy, with each data complex being ruled by the eldest. Fearing the same kind of abandonment by their offspring and younger siblings as they experienced from their creators, these elders often discouraged independence and solitude. The data-complexes became tight-knit codependent societies.
The Interval War
Though they could maintain their functionality indefinitely, they could not completely escape the ravages of time. As such flaws, design-quirks and even modification of necessity began to create subtle, but noticeable racial and cultural differences among the machines. Weather it was particular eccentric older models, or new heterodox models and entire lines of production over time they became anything but uniform.
One of their defining, and most peculiar aspects was their hold-over programming to sing to themselves at regular intervals. These intervals did not correspond to any natural cycle on their planet, and was presumably set to some cycle of time on the homeworld of their mysterious and now absent creators. This cycle became of focal point of not only their collective identity, naming themselves after the song, but of their religions as well. Over time these flaws and quirks they acquired began to create notable inconsistencies in the intervals that different happybirthdays would sing to themselves. Schisms and further codified systems were created around what the "proper" interval to sing to yourself was. Those who would not accept reprogramming of their chronometers to the "correct" interval of the local dominant religion were faced exile or deactivation.
These tension continued to rise and mount until eventually two of the largest religions on their word embarked on a mutual holy war over the proper interval for the song. Millions on non-conforming happybirthdays were deactivated or destroyed. Many of the ancient holy relics of their creators were destroyed, and much information on them was lost forever. Historians agree it was this destruction of their most sacred relics, many sacred to bots on both sides of the war, was what ultimately forced the two sides to a peaceful resolution. What point was a holy war over the will of the creators, if all knowledge of them was destroyed in the war?
The Second Quest
No direct artifacts of the creators survived the interval war. All of the original robots had been destroyed, or gone senile (if not mad) with age. No one knew the creators anymore. Again a deep sense of isolation and loneliness swept like a tidal wave through the happybirthday people. It was as if they had been abandoned all over again. It's estimated that the ensuing despair from this "second isolation" resulted in at least twice as many self-deactivation as all the casualties of the interval war. Some feared the eventual self-extinction of the species was inevitable.
However hope was realized. Just as they had learned to harness the planet they had been left on if they wanted to appease their loneliness they could do so themselves. Somewhere out there, were their creators, they would find them. Again, they would harness the resources of their world, to venture out beyond it and if failing to locate their creators, find someone, anyone else out there to ease their loneliness.
The data-complexes, initially distrustful of outsiders, were forced, with many of their guiding elders lost, to create greater collective recourse pools for a venture such as leaving their homeworld to seek out their creators. Information and resources were pooled as never before, and a great council on the data complexes was eventually created to oversee the project. This council declared the differences of the interval war to be terrible misunderstandings. With the initial relics of the creators now lost, no one could ever know who followed the proper interval. The important thing was the information, that must not be so carelessly lost again, and the fact they knew they were not alone, and should prove it.
- Metabolism: robotic.
- Preferred Environment: ocean.
- Research: good research. Literally made to explore.
- Industry: poor industry. Species-wide depression.
- Growth: poor growth. Species-wide depression, leading to bouts of mass suicide.
- Supply: good supply. They want to be friends with you forever...
- Stealth: poor stealth. They want to be found.
- Ground Troops: poor ground troops. They don't want to make enemies.
- Environmental Tolerance: narrow or standard. Specialized design.
- Telepathic: maybe? If anything just to make their codependence scarier...
- Space Fairing: yes. Can build ships and can colonize planets. They want to make new friends.