The following conversation was not originally carried out in english..... "Sierra 184 to november niner eight seven six quebec. Come in please." The archaeologists waited for a signal. Their pod hadn't been equipped with video conferencing yet so they had to make due with the audio network. "N9876Q here. How is your dig progressing?" One of the archaeologists replied, "Our work is going well. Our research and dig sites continue to confirm an array of extensive modern civilizations were destroyed and buried in dust after the asteriod hit the planet as our telescopic photos on Alpha Centauri indicated. This is a phenominal find." "Please elaborate Sierra 184." "As I've said in earlier reports, there is a very little that wasn't destroyed or deteriorated beyond any artifactual use over the millenium. Books, pictures, data files, disks and other memory devices we've found so far were all depleted and corrupted except for a word or two here and there and small parts of pictures extracted from clumps of bytes extracted from storage media. Please be aware that all the evidence we have gathered and patched together includes a lot of guesswork to help connect the dots. That said, the people on this planet conducted their affairs astonishingly similarly to the way we live on Alpha Centauri." "That's excellent. Could give us here a summary of your findings." "We found data which formed an almost intact digital picture of a tree being painted blue by a group of people and on the ground next to it there is another crew of people painting the grass red using brushes and buckets of paint. This is clear evidence that their cultural border wars were conducted in exactly the same way ours have been. On the bottom of the photo is a codeword we have yet to decipher which says 'www.wackypeople.com'." "Wow that's a great find. Did you find more evidence referring to their cultural wars?" The archaeologist answered with excitement, "Yes, there is almost unlimited quantities of evidence supporting this, but like I said, it is all in tiny bits of data and from pieces of equipment we dug up. Apparently their cultural paint wars consumed huge amounts of manpower and industrial resources." "Go on Sierra 184. This could be a huge find." "We have found evidence going back quite far in their history. Apparently just like we experienced, the colored flags they used to mark borders were taken down by neighboring nations and replaced by spots of paint being applied to trees, rocks or colored posts driven into the ground after moving the border to where that nation thought it should be. Their cultural border wars then escalated into entire armies of painters with cans of paint strapped onto their bodies and carrying a paintbrush in each hand or they used rollers and pans to do their work. Entire forests, fields, even lakes were painted with their national colors during these wars. We estimate up to 10 or even 20% of their populations were involved in the painting during cultural wars." "Sierra 184. Could you give me an example of the type of evidence you are looking at to conclude that?" "Okay. We found bits of historical data stating a people named 'French' painted their borders with blue paint and were contested for a period of 100 years by a rival people named 'English' which used red paint. English were trying to expand into French territory with a vigorous, though sometimes intermittent, painting campaign. The interesting part of this is the French nation held 12 million people versus only 2 million English and the latter was winning at first." "Did you find out why Sierra 184? With six times more people to draw painters from, the French had to of overcome them, especially if the war was closer to their paint factories." "We did find out. Apparently the English developed some new technology which starts with the word 'long' but we can't make out the next word. This new technology was employed at a place named Agincourt with devastating results. We are confident that our guess of 'longspray' is what they are referring to and the crew using these devices were called 'longspraymen'. It was basically a bucket of paint with a handcrank attached to a little waterwheel type of fixture which tossed out the paint in a wide spray which radically increased their painting efficiency. They also switched from oil paint to using latex water based paint which dried very fast and was lighter and flew further. The French had no chance at all after this development and the battle was very one-sided. The French had gathered all their great artists and best painters at Agincourt, the flower of their painter army, but they were handed a humiliating defeat by a crew of English painters fielding only a quarter of the number of French painters." "So how did the war progress Sierra 184?" "The war soon evened out because the outnumbered English were overextended and more and more of their painters had to be used in repainting areas red which the French kept repainting blue. It was a stalemate for decades." "Who won the war?" "Well near the end of the war, the French were blessed with a brilliant leader named Joan of Arc who was fervent about painting the English completely out of their lands. Her success so frustrated the English that she came to a tragic end. We suspect the English drowned her in a vat of red paint." "What did she do? Teach people to paint faster?" "Something very different in fact. Her idea was to switch to latex paint like the English did but to decrease the water proportion in it to maximize the length of time it took to dry and to improve the absorption effect when the English sprayed red paint on top of it. When the English sprayed thin amounts of red paint on top of the wet blue paint, the darker blue paint still dominated and the English had gained nothing of it. Basically this strategy nullified the longspray advantage the English had enjoyed for awhile." Alpha responded, "Okay I see. If they could keep their paint wet longer and subsequently red paint was applied overtop of it, the two colors would mix and the darker color blue would dominate the mixture. Just like the Kwanese did against the Bliggarts back on Alpha Centuri several centuries ago. That's really interesting. What else did you find out?" "We learned about a great artist named Michelangelo in Italy. This man apparentally was discovered by art scouts who visited his school when he was only in kindergarten. When the kids were all scribbling on sketchpaper in their usual wild way, Michelangelo was doing something very different." "And what was that?" "He had strapped together 17, yes 17, colored pencils and filled a piece of sketchpaper with color in a few seconds at most. Seeing that, the astonished scouts had him schooled in the best art schools and when he became an adult he was a legendary painter who supposedly could single-handedly paint entire fields before whole paintcrews could even prepare their paints to get started." "How about in their modern era? How did the cultural warring methods evolve?" "Very, very similar to our own experience. The biggest war of all was named 'The Second World War' and used up a fantastic amount of manpower and paint. A nation named Germany, aided by some others, developed something called a 'tank of paint' which drove around on tracks and hosed down huge tracts of land with paint way too fast for painters on foot to keep up with. The French were one of the first to be completely painted over in the German color of grey within perhaps only a few months." "So did Germany paint the whole world grey eventually?" "No, an allied team of nations got upset and used aerial bombers to dump vast quantities of paint over German cities and lands. The landbased tanks of paint had no chance against them. The aerial bombers were likely at first to have been converted water bombers previously used against fires and as crop dusters. Exact same situation as we saw happen on Alpha Centauri. The new bomber designs just got bigger and bigger and specialized in paint dumping. The biggest was called a B-29." "Wow, that's amazing they went through the exact same progression as we did." "Ya, but that wasn't all. A nation in the 2nd World War developed a super paintbomb using the same technology as the nukes we have. Another nation named Japan helping Germany had we suspect 3 superbombs dumped on each of two cities by an allied country named the USA using B-29 bombers. The bombs were likely colored red, white and blue according to our evidence and used nuclear fission to blast open and spread hundreds, maybe thousands, of tons of paint canisters over the two cities. It must have been horrible for the victims. There was not enough yellow paint in all of Japan to repaint the cities so they surrendered." "Just like the Imperialists did to the Kwanese. That really is horrible." "There was worse to come." "Sierra 184, what could be worse than nukes?" "The USA upped the anty against a country called North Vietnam a few decades later because they didn't like their form of government. You know how during cultural wars, the painting is always done along the border? Well this time they tried to paint the entire nation of Vietnam orange all at once." "You've got to be mistaken." "No, on this we are sure. From the records, the USA had been using painters on foot in the thick jungle foilage but the dense greenery sucked up the paint in such fantastic amounts that it was impossible to make any headway. And the enemy was as tenacious as any the USA had ever faced. The USA then dropped so much orange paint on the country that their own painters on the ground were covered in the high chemical mixture and later suffered numerous cases of cancer." "Wow." "Yes, amazing isn't it? And they still had to give up on the project in the end. The jungle coupled with the relentless defenders were just too much and consumed too much paint." "Sierra 184, I'm wondering... you said earlier the USA used red, white and blue paints against Japan and then in Vietnam they used orange. Why the change? I mean, they must have had a lot of pride in their national colors." "We suspect that given the cancerous effects of being covered in the orange paint that it was not just paint. It may have been designed to kill the jungle. We think that once the foilage had been killed off by the orange, they would then they would have repainted it in their national colors." "Right. That makes sense. You really are committed to your work Sierra 184. You and your team will be highly commended for this." "Thank you N9876Q." "To wrap this up, did you find out what the situation was like at the time the asteriod hit?" "Yes, the cultural wars seem to have died down with no more movement of borders. Satellites orbited the planet in large numbers and most probably some contained huge resevoirs of paint ready to be dumped on rival nations' cities aided by nukes if any new wars broke out. The exact same deterrant situation we now have happening on Alpha Centauri. There are still some satellites orbiting the planet but they are not tankers, most likely targeting and spy vehicles. Hopefully we can tow them in for examination at some point." "Alright thank you Sierra 184. I will take your findings to the administrator. Just one last question...." "Sure go ahead N9876Q." "Other than the picture of the tree and grass being painted, do you have any other direct visual evidence of the cultural paintwars?" "Yes, solid evidence. We dug up a kind of paintgun that appears to have been loaded with balls of paint and were most probably propelled out of the barrel by compressed air. This must be some kind of advanced handheld painting equipment with much greater range but with a lower volumn of fire than a regular paint sprayer." "Okay great. Anything else?" "Yeeeaaah kinduv..." "That doesn't sound too positive." "Well it is from some software so it's not exactly a photo." "Okay go on." "The software is named Civilization 4 and we are not sure what kind of software it is." "So what kind of photo are we looking at here." "The photos we found were actually screenshots of a digital, artistic rendition taken from the software when it is running as there is not enough data intact from the program to extract and run it. The photos show colored borders around cities which seem to change in size and color according to each nation." "Sierra 184, did you consider the possibility that may be a game or animated video you are looking at?" "We did consider that and are still examining it and searching for more related evidence. Like I said, we are patching together tiny scraps of information to get an idea of their history and peoples. Together with the very indicative photo of the tree and grass being painted, as well as the paintball gun, these plus the similarities to our own cultural paint battles make us quite comfortable in providing these conclusions." "Okay Sierra 184, we are going to trust in your professionalism. You and your people are doing a fantastic job over there." "Thank you N9876Q. Could you give the term 'www.wackypeople.com' to your decoders to work on? That may give us some more background information on who the people in the photo are." "www.wackypeople.com... okay got it. I'll get back to you on that. N9876Q out."