INTRODUCTORY REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS OF EARTH GENERAL DEFENSE COMMITTEE
OBSERVATIONS OF MACHINE EMPIRE EXPANSION AND PLANETARY ANNEXATION
Dr. Marcel Dupont
Dr. Karl Bouchard
Dr. Marie Verres-Graves
Dr. Sako Ayase
Brig. General Han Guanting
Commodore Lin Zenya
This report is the culmination of several hundred man-hours of reconnaissance and data-gathering, undertaken by teams of both military and civilian personnel. The contributors would like to stress that a more in-depth document is to be released at a later date. However, they are confident in the findings outlined in this paper and would like readers to treat it as an introductory or preliminary report detailing the insidious spread of the Machine Empire and its forces throughout Known Space.
While our allies in the Galactic Alliance continue to provide us tremendous resources on the Machine threat with which to prepare our own military forces; along with numerous internal briefings written and released over the past century, the contributors felt an updated report was necessary with intelligence gathered from our own forces given the recent mobilization of Machine Forces in sectors bordering UNE-controlled space.
Phase 1: Survey and Evaluation
Hyperspace-capable drone ships are dispatched from either planetary-based facilities or space assets to nearby sectors deemed worthwhile for exploration by their Command Processing Units. This decision appears to be made utilizing information gained by prior observations of the surrounding space and theoretical models developed also by those Command Processing Units.
Typically, star systems featuring an abundance of terrestrial planets with large deposits of titanium, iron, nickel, copper, and other metals are marked for immediate processing, as those substances are the principal materials required for manufacturing new warrior units, worker units, and eventually larger structures and spaceships. Conversely, planets or planetoids with higher ratios of silicates are typically marked for further assessment at a later time as those materials are not as important to the Empire's expansion plans. Gas giants or smaller planets which feature atmospheres with high amounts of hydrogen gas are also favoured, as the element forms the Machine Empire's primary source of energy through fusion. These are all typical observations, however, and it should be noted that in a few unfortunate instances, Machine assault forces have been detected targeting worlds which may not feature their preferred raw resources in any significant amount, but do feature advanced lifeforms – and in at least two cases, sentient alien civilizations; which lends further credence to the various theories that an intentional and malicious intelligence may guide or perhaps completely form the Machine Empire's master operating programs.
The drones exit hyperspace at the periphery of the system, moving inward in small groups and performing full-spectral scans of all nearby objects. These drone ships are relatively small and stealthy despite their various active scanning arrays. They are armed with a few close-range energy weapon mounts, but generally avoid close contact with other vessels or inhabited planets with advanced detection capabilities of their own, and will switch to passive scanning if required. Usually, only one sweep of a system is made from slightly beyond the orbit of the out-most planet or planetoid from the system's primary star to the same orbit on the opposite side of the star. The drones then engage their hyperdrives and return to the planetary facilities or fleets of origin, where they upload the data collected to the Command Processing Units for evaluation. Using the criteria mentioned above, a new program of annexation is created which prioritizes target worlds.
Phase 2: Spatial Superiority
Once a world has been targeted by Machine Empire forces and selected for annexation, assault fleets are quickly assembled and dispatched. Like the survey drone ships mentioned above, these warships typically enter the system from the periphery and often travel to their targets in reduced power mode. Oddly, if a world is inhabited with any species possessing electromagnetic wave communications or anything more advanced, these fleets typically transmit multi-spectral transmissions of both audio and video. These transmissions are undoubtedly a component of the Machine Empire's psychological warfare programs and contain audio recording of screams, crying, moaning, and other sounds of natural terror – likely recorded from their victims of during prior planetary assaults; as well as images of gross torture and death – again, likely the recorded depictions of the now-dead victims of a prior Machine Empire invasion. If there are any other non-Machine vessels or structures in the system, dedicated attack craft will be dispatched from the main fleet to engage and destroy them.
When in close range to a planet or similar body with any form of aerial or orbital defensive capabilities, the fleets will immediately target any and all military sites, firing heavy energy weapons and kinetic kill units. With all major military targets destroyed, the fleet then moves it's attention to population centres – methodically destroying cities with relative impunity.
If the planet has no meaningful defences with which to repel any Machine forces, this phase is almost skipped in its entirety, and most fleet attack craft and support ships will instead maintain a defensive posture themselves around key command and control vessels to protect from any spaceborne attackers who were able to avoid or outrun the advancing fleet, or from any other adversaries such as Alliance task forces which may arrive in-system from elsewhere.
Phase 3: Planetary Assault
With any planetary defences destroyed or otherwise rendered inactive and any major population centres left razed by orbital bombardment, the Machine Assault Fleet will typically begin landing it's ground assets. If there is any possible resistance left on the world, drop ships containing Nightmare Terror Troops and other warrior units will seek out any potential defenders and surviving sentient lifeforms and attack, usually using both ground-based units and aerial or orbital support systems.
Machine invasion forces are noted for their rapid blitzkerg-like tactics which typically see hordes of warrior units dispatched to target areas quickly and in overwhelming numbers. Machine logic dictates it is preferable to destroy all potential disruptive resistance in the early stages of annexation rather than to allow the change of any survivors to live and create possible difficulties in the future.
When resistance on the surface, air, and orbit is either eliminated or significantly reduced to manageable levels, the fleet's primary command ships containing its Command Processing Units will then make planetfall and begin the process of converting themselves to manufacturing, power production facilities, or any other structure the Empire requires. The last part of this phase involves worker units following up to begin the extraction and processing of the world's natural resources.
Phase 4: Resource Extraction and Facility Construction
In almost all cases, the primary motivation of the Machine Empire to annex a world is the acquisition of raw resources with which to build and power new warrior or worker units, facilities, specialized equipment and weapons, vehicles and starships. To do this, worker units are dispatched to mine, drill, or extract whatever resource they can. Preferred materials as indicated above will typically have more units allocated, while less useful materials may only have a relatively small number of units ordered to collect them.
When a particular resource is collected, it is then transported by any number of means to a processing facility. In the early stages of this phase, material is often moved by ground-based or atmospheric transport craft. Over time, more permanent structures such as pipelines or massive conveyor systems are build to more efficiently move material. If the world in question had any sort of advanced structures using metals prior to the Empire's invasion, scavenger units will be dispatched to the burnt-out and crumbling husks of former cities to collect any usable materials which may have survived the Machine's initial attack.
Over the course of this phase, the Machines will also further develop planetary defence systems such as surface-to-space missile launchers and directed energy cannons. Fleet and orbital defences are also constructed as well as long-range detection systems.
Phase 5: Further Expansion
Even before the first load of iron ore is processed on a world, the Command Processing Units which oversee all Machine Empire activity will begin to develop future plans for expansion. Warrior units, worker units, vehicles, and both drone ships and vessels of war will be constructed and stockpiled as necessary. New Command Processing Units will also be built and eventually transplanted to newly-constructed Command and Control ships. The cycle of expansion begins anew as the CPUs begin to develop their own survey programs and assign tasks to the necessary fleet assets to start a new campaign.