The Message

One thousand eight hundred dead. Director Brissot repeated the number in his mind, as if in disbelief. As the director watched, clusters of circles exploded onto the tactical map as the latest battle data was received. The number dead increased to around one thousand nine hundred. After the computer finalized the data, a popup appeared presenting a computer generated summary of the most recent battle.

Countless statistics flashed on the screen, but Brissot ignored them, skipping to the main summary. The results were disappointing. Despite winning the battle for the colony, the losses─particularly civilian─were staggeringly high. Furthermore, the land gain from the victory was virtually non-existent, and the rebel fortifications still remained.

Brissot sighed. It had been only 52 days since the eastern continent had declared independence, and peacekeeping efforts had already resulted in mass bloodshed. Despite superior firepower and technology, virtually no advances had been made in the last few weeks. And as wars fought throughout history have shown, the colony’s military prowess would be meaningless in a war of attrition.

The noise of a notification broke the director’s deep thought. Brissot opened the message, prompting a decryption key. He entered his credentials, and waited as the computer decrypted the message.


To: George Brissot

From: Adrasteia High Command

Congress has voted and the decision to request terran aid has been approved. We would like to remind that it is entirely your decision and responsibility to send the request. If you choose not to request aid, it will be 30 days before Congress can override your decision. We trust that you understand the present issue at hand and choose wisely.

You have been granted access to our QCM system to send the message. In the attached file are security codes for the QCM system. We wish you the best of luck.

- Adrasteia High Command


Brissot opened up a new window and composed a new quantum communications message (QCM) addressed to Earth Command. Because of the immense costs of instantaneous communication ($1,200,000 per byte), QCM was only used for the most urgent of messages. Furthermore, emergency procedures are designated short codes, which are periodically updated via radio-message from Earth. These codes would allow for procedures to be enacted with only a few bytes of transmission.

The message body was simple: “PR315,” the procedure code for requesting military aid from Earth Command. Brissot double checked that he had inputted the correct code and continued. A second verification screen appeared. Brissot entered the attached codes from the message and re-entered his login credentials. The director took a deep breath, then pressed the “SEND” button.

A few seconds after the computer had authorized the message and sent it to Earth Command, the director received a QCM from Earth Command reading “R+*.” Brissot looked up the correct conjugate code, and replied “S./1,” verifying that he was the sender of the previous QCM.

This was a redundant verification method─QCM, unlike classical communication, was unhackable. Information physics simply prohibited tampering with a QCM, and even if the message content was changed, the edit would immediately be observed via quantum effects. Still, Earth bureaucracy often remained behind on new technologies.

Several hours later, the spaceship E.F.S. Judgment received a QCM from Earth Command. The captain redirected the ship’s thrusters, and began a steady acceleration for the Alpha Centuri system. Even though the Judgment was equipped with the latest experimental engines, it would be nearly a decade before it arrived. Until then, the Adrasteia colony would just have to wait.