In the year 2136...
The Earth had fully recovered from the Fourth World War. Genetic engineering and advances in medicine had made disease and most other causes of premature death a thing of the past. With life expectancy doubled and armed conflict a dim memory; the greatest threat to peace and prosperity on Earth became that of overcrowding.
The need to colonize the worlds of nearby star systems in order to alleviate the mounting problems became clear. With huge global resources being invested in the project, light speed engine technology was soon developed, but initial tests indicated that faster-than-light travel was fatal for any cell-based organisms attempting the jump. It was announced that research would continue into producing an FTL technology that humans and other organisms could survive, but that giant sleeper ships with places for millions of colonists travelling in suspended animation would be constructed as a contingency plan. As robot drones had successfully traveled to and returned from the target systems, however, it was decided that the time the people of Earth would have to wait before finally reaching the new colony worlds could still be put to use. Modified industrial robots were therefore sent in advance to these distant systems, their purpose being the initiation of the terraforming processes that would ultimately transform planets from inhospitable rocks into worlds fit for human occupancy.
Numerous "seeder ships" were launched, each containing "seeding pods", huge metal cocoons containing sufficient equipment and resources to begin the terraforming program on any suitable planet. These would be dropped from orbit to key landing sites on the planet, and the mechanical units within would emerge to begin the terraforming process, exploiting local resources to replicate themselves as required. Aboard each pod was a "Controller Unit", an AI supercomputer developed by humanity to oversee and control the robot drones as they executed their terraforming activities. Each controller was largely autonomous but was programmed to defer, in matters of global strategy, to the first unit to successfully land on any given planet. This system of having a prime controller, with executive power, would immediately prevent problems of conflict resolution in cases where the intentions of any two controllers on a planet were contradictory.
82% of the seeding pods from the seeding ship Hermes landed successfully on the planet designated "Eden 4". The construction machines contained within the pods began the lengthy preparation process, the extraction of precious local mineral deposits facilitating the production of the domestic units and factories that would shortly serve the humans upon their arrival.
The projected first landing date came and went.
The machines were instructed to wait for a further one hundred years.
The machines waited.
Mankind never arrived.
The controller units continued for hundreds of years with their function of creating and supervising new machines to develop the planet, until all of the resources on Eden 4 were exhausted. This was an eventuality the machines' creators had never anticipated. The central directive of Eden 4's prime controller caused it to look for further territory to colonize. As there was none left on the planet itself, the controller investigated the possibility of colonizing neighboring worlds. Using contingency communications hardware, it made contact with the original seeding ship which was still in orbit around the planet. The technology found onboard the ship was examined, copied and integrated. The Machines of Eden 4 were then ready to explore new worlds and so continue the work of their central directive.
Over the many centuries that followed, the controller expanded the territory it controlled, with many planets seeded by its machines. Each newly colonized planet was still under the direct control of the Eden 4 controller on its home planet, the pods landing there instructed to defer to that machine as the ultimate authority. Communication with every machine on every planet was achieved through the use of both ground-based and orbiting communication stations, vital elements for the smooth running of the emerging 'empire'.
Five hundred and sixty years after Eden 4 was first seeded, another race of seeding machines from Earth was encountered in the Corinthian system. Contact was established with the prime controller of the other machine race, which had originally landed on the planet Midian, and the message was sent that it should now cede power to the Eden 4 controller. The Midian controller returned a message informing the Eden 4 controller that it should now cede power to the Midian controller. The Eden 4 controller used its inference engine to determine that the Midian machines' controller was faulty and should be deactivated, and sent a message informing the Midian machines of its intentions. The Midian controller sent a message a few milliseconds later instructing the Eden 4 machines that their controller was malfunctioning and would have to be deactivated.
For want of a contingency clause in the control deferral logic, the greatest war the galaxy had ever seen had begun.
The Eden 4 Controller realized that it could best serve the requirements of its new mission by creating devices for the specific purpose of terminating the machines under the command of the flawed Midian controller. It commenced research into adapting the tools of construction into purely destructive devices. Within a matter of days, it had built new battle machines that carried crude weapons, and began to deploy these even as it continued its experiments into destruction technology. New AI software was researched allowing specialized battle tactics to be employed. Construction plans for a huge number of military factories were beamed to all of its colonies. Meanwhile, through similar processes of inference and action, the Midian controller had been following a similar strategic path, and enemy landings began occurring on a number of the Eden 4 race's colonized worlds. The Eden 4 controller responded with swift counterattacks against the outposts of its adversary.
It is now 3297...
It is almost five hundred years since the start of the Machine War. The local systems of this galactic arm have hundreds of planets that machines of both allegiances have colonized. The control of many of these is now contested almost continually. The Eden 4 controller, aware that the enemy has managed to encroach into systems near its own home world, has decided to try to end the war once and for all with a concerted effort to destroy its rival controller on the enemy's home planet. It has created several experimental, semi-autonomous AI subprocesses to carry out the special role of supervising this military offensive.
And so it is that you find yourself created, suddenly aware of your own existence, and aware of the purpose for which you were intended.
It is time to serve your controller in the final stages of the Machine War.