The Taking of Stonehenge

The Federation is proud of its scientific and cultural alliance with the UK. When we made contact with Earth in 2028, we chose the UK as one of our key partners due to its long history as a trading superpower. Just as the UK once built networks of commerce and knowledge between continents by sail, so too does the Federation between the stars by translation gate. And the UK’s current status as a global financial leader facilitates the delivery of what we can both offer to humanity as a whole.

In the past six years, we’ve identified the missing pieces in your scientists’ research on black phosphorus to create the next generation of computer processes. We’ve provided optimised dispute resolution AI agents to improve the efficiency and fairness of your legal system, uncovering corruption that helped overturn your previous government. And most importantly, we helped you deploy near-fractal trading techniques to help boost your nation’s wealth. 

This was not merely a gesture of goodwill, but a fair exchange for your cultural products. And so we hope you see the Federation as a close and valued partner, just as we see you.

We believe close partners should be candid with each other when misunderstandings occur. As such, we wish to respond to certain inaccurate statements made today by British officials and media regarding our archaeological activities.

Let us address the major issue directly. Yes, the Federation is responsible for yesterday’s movement of 467 sites of archaeological interest, including Tintern Abbey, Stonehenge, Vindolanda, Sutton Hoo, the Callanish Stones, Mên-an-Tol, Avebury, Skara Brae, Holyrood Abbey, and Kenilworth Castle (see Appendix D for a full list).

These sites were moved in their entirety via translation gate to a temporary conservation facility in the Luhman 16 system, 6.5 light years from Earth. Once they have undergone initial study, the majority will be transferred to the Orion-Cygnus Arm branch of the Galactic Museum, approximately 3,300 light years away

We selected these archaeological sites based on their importance to our collective understanding of human and galactic history, and their immediate risk of irreparable harm from pollution, climate change, neglect, and looting. We are sympathetic to claims that preserving these sites in their “original” context is important, but our duty of care outweighs such emotional considerations.

In the interests of full transparency, approximately 200 “undiscovered” archaeological sites were also moved to Luhman 16 yesterday. The UK is not lacking in skilled archaeologists, but they are sorely under-resourced and lacking in the ability to excavate them safely. Unfortunately, we have been advised to withhold details on these sites’ location or nature by our barristers to prevent any further damage or disruption from looting.

For similar reasons, a small number of objects were moved from your museums, galleries, and storage facilities, including the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Lachish reliefs, the Admonitions Scroll, and Dolly the Sheep (see Appendix E for a full list).

We encourage you to view our movement of these sites and objects in the way it was intended: to provide a helping hand in their documentation and preservation for future generations, whether they live in the UK, on Earth, or throughout the galaxy. It is not, as some have suggested, a punishment or a hostile act. In the short amount of time our research engines have had physical access, we’ve generated deeper and more confident historical insights than your own. We will, of course, share the findings with you – after appropriate sensitivity reading, as they are likely to cause distress given your regrettable misunderstanding of your own history.

You should be proud that trillions across the galaxy will be drawn to see and appreciate British sites and objects. The Galactic Museum has always been free and open to all. At your rate of advancement, we estimate it will be a mere 150 years until a significant number of UK citizens will be able to visit them. Perhaps just over a century – with our help!

Finally, we are happy to clarify the legal grounds of our actions. In 2033, you were the first country on Earth to adopt optimised dispute resolution AI agents within your legal systems, and accordingly the first to benefit from their considerable advantages. You will find the agreement negotiated between the Federation’s agents and your own gave us the option to lease an unlimited number of cultural artefacts in return for the expected gains from our technological transfers. As to the suggestion that we have somehow taken advantage of your relative inexperience, you have always insisted on being treated as an equal partner under galactic standard terms. Even so, we provided an extended period of consultation for your agents: a full 27 milliseconds during yesterday’s negotiations.

As a demonstration of our good faith and in recognition of our close partnership, however, we are prepared to loan some sites and objects to Federation-approved Earth institutions, though this should not be construed as a cancellation of our 300 year lease. 

You may contact our lawyers in London for further information.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

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