A small science outpost sparkled in the cold vacuum of space, its orbit shallow and elliptical. Two modified Mark Nine shuttles equipped with new fusion engines and loaded with every weapon humanity had thus far invented followed the same orbit, directly opposite one another. The focus of this deep-space mission was a large gunmetal gray ring spinning slowly on an axis but perfectly geostationary, its diameter over a mile wide.
All attempts to examine the spinning artifact, made by AI or human, had produced no results. Its origin and composition remained a mystery. It had always been there, hidden in the yawning depths of Jupiter’s rings with many thousands of kilometers to hide in. Without help from the early AIs it’s probable humans would never have found it. But they noticed and anomaly so early response, deep-space science probes sent with no AI on board to assist them, passed through its gaping center without gathering any useful information. The structure was impervious to everything sent in its direction, whether it was scans, drilling, or weapons fire. The only interesting thing found so far had been a spot on the top center of the outer ring. The area seemed to be absorbing data transmissions with no trace and no return transmission received.
Still cautious about AI entanglement, The International Space Expansion Council (ISEC), had cautiously approved further investigation. In an era where faster, more powerful sentient computers had been the holy grail for so long, society had suddenly become very coy about the use of artificial intelligence. Many proclaimed the caution was a safeguard, while others attributed it to narcissistic human behavior.
ISEC was now the largest joint political & military organization asserting its influence on earth and the surrounding space territories. Human leaders handed many routine tasks of governance to the senior AI’s representing their individual countries and territories. These senior AIs were referred to as “The Nest” but it was said publicly that the human leaders still had a dead man’s handle on the Ais; but the truth was, the Supreme Courts of the world recognized AIs as equal to humans, so quite who was in control of who these days was as foggy as it had been for the entire chain of human history on earth.
Eventually ISEC launched new Mark-9 shuttles towards Jupiter at near FTL, this time with AIs mounted in their white nose cones, space work horses doing their job, and this time they picked up a signal. AI minds translated it within days, whereas humans may never have translated it at all, and with the translation the first contact with another sentient race had begun. Government AIs agitated for the news to be public, although ISEC themselves made the announcement to the press. Humans unlike the AI’s reacted as expected with a high degree of hype and anxiety. News and fake news went crazy.