AI War - Zenith Aliens
Who Are The Zenith Aliens?
Q: The first expansion to AI War is named after the Zenith aliens, right? What's the details on them?
A: The Zenith aliens have been around as a mysterious and minor presence since the release of 1.0 of AI War and well before. The Zenith Starship and the Spire Starship are both advanced alien technology that is unlike anything else in the base game. Where did these particular artifacts come from, and how did the humans and AIs gain the blueprints to use them? The first expansion, in subtle ways, answers these questions and introduces new ones. Here's a rundown of what has been revealed so far, either through the game or by the developer:
The Zenith Aliens are a truly ancient race, who used to be the undisputed masters of a nearby galaxy to ours. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, however, their civilization crumbled, leaving a galaxy littered with the remnants of their past glory. In the base game, all we see of these aliens are those two lonely starships. In the expansion, we start to encounter the descendants of that fallen empire in the flesh, as minor factions. Players have a choice of encountering Zenith miners, traders, dyson spheres, or devourers -- individually, or all in a single game, or in any desired mix. The expansion also contains dozens of ships that are clearly of Zenith origin that the players and the AI are now in possession of, or which they can take possession of.
So what happened? The exact cause of the destruction of the Zenith empire is not known to humanity at this time, but what is clear is that it did not completely obliterate all specimens of that race. Instead, it fragmented them and scattered them to the stars. Some ply trade with other species, organic or otherwise. Some simply roam around in a amoral state, harvesting planets (the miners), or other other spacecraft (the devourers). In the case of the dyson sphere, one faction of the aliens has harnessed the power of an entire star -- those are the moodiest bunch of all, and their motivations are particularly unclear. They are equally likely to attack the players as the AIs at first, unless players make an enemy or an ally out of them through helping or hindering the alien conquest of the local planet.
The massive influx of new alien technology must be attributed to more than just the friendly-to-all traders that now roam the galaxy, however. Ancient remains of war machines large and small have provided information to the humans and the AIs that the Zenith perhaps never meant to share. By the time period of The Zenith Remnant, alien technology is proliferate in the human/AI-contested galaxy, and is almost as common as human-designed craft. The most significant specimens of these are the massive golems. Special ships, known as Acid Sprayers, have even been specifically designed by the humans (and cooped by the AI) in order to specifically destroy the organic components that are vital to all Zenith ships. This is how much the new weaponry has influence the old order of the battlefield.
All of this speaks to the history of the Zenith as a species. What are they, as individuals, actually like? Unfortunately, no human knows. Trade with the Zenith is handled in a very impersonal manner that does not facilitate conversion. In fact, no one has ever seen a Zenith alien in the flesh. For all we humans know, they actually are their ships -- all of their ships have many organic components. For all we know, when we are using their blueprints to create new ships for our own use, we are actually helping them reproduce -- and then enslaving their "offspring." This is just one theory, though.