We do not have a real identity as a 'species' per se - our kind is simply referred to as the "Collectors". For our organization's purpose is to preserve the works of art from across the galaxy in an archive spanning millions of artifacts from thousands of civilizations. We specifically are a newly made branch of collectors on our first task - to retrieve artifacts from a civilization before it is wiped from existence.

The civilization in question is one that is burned down to its last world, its home world. They had reached out to us earlier to preserve their cultural treasures, but only now have we mobilized the retrieval force.

We may have technological advantages in speed and maneuverability, but in raw warfare there is very little we can do to influence the unfortunate outcome of the Siege. Our vessels do not come unarmed, it is simply because the invaders have a whole fleet while we only have a ten ship brigade. Said outcome being the inevitable destruction of this world and its millennia of history. Calling for outside support is not our jurisdiction and it is not why we are here. This world made too many enemies and there is simply no galaxy wide organization dedicated to diplomatic affairs in the current epoch.

However it may just be possible to get artifacts - and ideally living members of the species off world fast enough that we do not get intercepted by the Siegers.

There is a several obstacles that make this hard.

The first obstacle is that there is no stealth in space.

The second obstacle is that there is no "warp drive" in our universe. Instead our universe has a network of jump points situated near stars that link to other stars.

The third obstacle is the formidable invading fleet that despite having little if any means of reinforcement, have managed to secure much of the star system.

The architecture of the star system is as follows. Each feature/world is labeled in order of distance from the parent star:

  • Star Count: One. G4.3-class

  • There is a vulcanite asteroid belt near the Roche-limit. Various patrols are located here. There is six jump points, most of which are well guarded. But only one jump point has the bulk of the invading force pouring in.

  • 0.12 AU; Barren world with low eccentricity orbit. It is a hot planet with little atmosphere. This world is 3000 km in diameter. Tidally locked. There is not much activity here.

  • 0.3 AU; Barren world that is 4300 km in diameter with slow rotation akin to Mercury. It is on this world that the Siegers have based themselves on after destroying the native mining facilities.

  • 0.6 AU; A large world around 13000 km in size with a thick atmosphere. This world is not in a completely stable orbit. It's a hot world with volcanic activity and a small belt of asteroids that make a tenuous ring. Strip mining of this world has left many deep quarries all over the place. This world has few inhabitants and is not being prioritized by the invaders despite having some patrols in orbit. The invaders are focused on destroying the city world first.

  • 0.9 AU; At 0.9 AU out is the world that is under siege. It is a city world about 7800 km in diameter with very developed defense systems, but these defense systems are taking a toll from repeated attempts by the invaders to irradiate entire continents in hit and run attacks. They have space elevators concentrated near the point of their world where tidal locking is most intense. The invaders intently keep watch on this area, but the high amounts of traffic around the world have made it hard for the invading force to know where exactly the defenders are building up which has allowed the defenders to set up more defenses with what time they have. The world is densely urbanized and they are aware of our mission. Communicating is not that difficult despite the blockades, but physical exchange is what our purpose is.

  • 3 AU; a Jovian world 37000 km in diameter with two barren moons and a somewhat eccentric orbit. The distance of the world has not prevented it from being targeted by invading forces that bombed apart the infrastructure on the moons.

  • 6 AU; A large icy world about 6000 km in diameter that is another hold out due to distance and a underground colony that is laden in defense systems. The invaders, like with the other hold out have put little effort into destroying this place yet.

  • 12 AU; A dim small ice world further out around 5000 km in diameter. There's just robots here.

With this information, how can artifacts be retrieved from this world in a timely matter while minimizing the destruction of assets?

We have a around ten space craft entering from a jump point separate from the main jump point. The leading ship is a cruiser, the other nine are smaller more specialized ships used for rapid retrieval equipped with surface-orbit shuttles. Destroying the guards at the jump point is the easy part for us, the hard part is contending with the actually powerful spacecraft that are of true war making capability. Our spaceships have superior maneuverability to the invaders' designs, but our weaponry and defenses have only a slight advantage at best- and the invaders out number us by a factor is 20:1. Or 120 spacecraft. They are somewhat spread out, with the majority of their spaceships in orbit of the city world.

Technology wise our shielding can handle particle weapons (for a several minutes) but kinetic weaponry can overwhelm the defense systems. The invaders have both such weapons- as do we. The invaders also have WMDs designed to make habitable worlds uninhabitable for millions, if not billions of years. Thankfully the invaders don't really hate us as much as they hate the civilization they are trying to wipe out. But they do not want us being here either way, they do not want reminders of this society's existence floating about the galaxy and will target us for disregarding their 'wishes' so to speak.

Our spacecraft can manuver rapidly due to us being not exactly biological beings, unlike the invaders who are only partial cyborgs. So G-force problems are of less concern to us. Our ships can move at 0.09 c, while the invaders move only around 0.04 c. The invaders also accelerate slower than we can.

If you believe we should acquire certain technologies (stealth systems are not available) or allocate more resources into this venture, please specify. es into this venture, please specify.

  • $\begingroup$ Use the kinetic weapon tech to fire payloads of artifacts and dummy packages from the surface of the planet (or low orbit) towards the edge of the solar system. Tell the collectors which ones are real so they can intercept and escape while the attackers waste resources chasing the dummies $\endgroup$
    – Ewan
    Mar 18, 2016 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ A war does not end until all the enemy are eliminated. The invaders know this so if you plan to extract "living members of the species" you are going to be their prime enemy forever, I would focus on their digital archive and ask them to leave artefacts of value at some Lagrange point if they cannot be scanned. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Jan 26, 2018 at 19:14

4 Answers 4


Have you considered bargaining with the other party?

If they have any respect for you, they may allow you to pick up some artworks and other stuff in trade for something they want. Simply buy passage and be ready for a double-cross.

If the situation is completely hopeless, you might even get the losing civilization to negotiate a surrender, with the terms being that the "enemy" gives them time to make peace with their ending and you to preserve their art and history before they are wiped out of existence. The advantage to the enemy would be that they save a lot of resources in ending the siege quickly.

It sounds cynical and even immoral to help the "enemy" destroy this civilization, but then, the Collectors are not interested in saving them, are they?


Presumably the seige force will be guarding the jump point. This is a natural bottleneck and you can't bypass it. You must concentrate on ways to sneak in on existing traffic. Since this is not a relief force and is not smuggling in anything to help the natives, you might find clever loopholes in the security since this is not the threat they are modeling.

Once you get in, you can't smuggle anything out. You can however help arranges caches of artefacts so that they are not destroyed during the fight, record data, and spread the word on how to preserve things.

You can pick up the collection long after the war is over.

Note for example that we still find dinosaur bones and tracks, and that was near total deatruction of the surface of the planet. You will find things, even without such preparation. So concentrate on data recording to get context that will help later, and identify places and situations that will naturally preserve artefacts, as well as some understanding of what is important. A little bit of recording of the culture will make a big difference in understanding what yiu find innthe rubble or in long-burried trash.


You are fully machine intelligence right? So step one, back yourselves up.

Step two break down your ships into swarms of tiny nanobots and distribute yourselves throughout them.

Jump through a decoy ship designed to look like one of the defenders, let it get blown up and disguise yourselves as debris.

Once clear of the choke point swarm into the target planet and then scan the cultural artifacts and back them up. Assemble two of the fastest ships you have available and load physical artifacts and biological specimens into them. The swarm distributes the scans of all other cultural artifacts with massive redundancy then the two fast ships make a break for it at the same time as the swarm disperses in all directions.

Wait until after the fighting dies down and then the swarm can re-assemble. If the physical specimens escaped then great. If not then you still have a full scan with redundant backups of everything you collected and of yourselves.


You mentioned that your smaller craft have shuttles. Do you have any craft which are capable of surface landings, interstellar flight through the jump points, and long endurance?

  • Insert through the jump point, outrun the guard force without fighting if you can. Break contact and get into deep space.
  • Collect the squadron and repair any damage. Being non-biological, you can wait some time until the hunt dies down. A siege is a lengthy affair, right?
  • Send the space-to-surface ships in, again using superior speed to dodge the invaders. Get down to the surface of the planet where the background clutter will hide your ships. Load artifacts and perhaps living specimens, but those are difficult, see below.
  • Launch and try to get into deep space, on a vector completely unlike your insertion vector. Break contact with your superior speed. Rendezvous with the cruiser.
  • Move at sublight speed to the next system with a jump point. That will take a couple of decades, but so what? You're not organic.
  • $\begingroup$ The first bullet pretty much trivializes the question. "How do I get past a seige force guarding a single choke point?" A: just run fast and don't fight. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Mar 18, 2016 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz, the question assumed that the jump point guard force could be defeated. If that is the case, why not outrun them? The real obstacle are the siege forces in the inner system. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 18, 2016 at 14:42

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