The very first First was nothing more than an accident. She was just a colony child growing up among native wildlife, who stumbled into playmates that weren’t quite animals.
She wasn’t alone in her find, a whole passel of kids spent idle hours roaming about en mass. Later research found two more children who tested on the low end of First inclinations, but for the aliens she was the only voice amongst the noise. So she played First and they played Seconds and Thirds, for a first contact no one knew was happening.
When the rest of the colony finally caught on, they played it safe. They let the children continue their play uninterrupted and slowly wove themselves into the pattern the First had created. It was the only successful first contact humanity had made and they were determined to find out why.
Once things were stable enough, the tests began. Subtle and unimposing, they monitored her every move, physical and physiological. Once they had a data set, a blueprint of what they hadn’t known they needed… they started looking outside the group.
After trial and error (and mostly error) the scientists found the flavor of brain chemistry that let the Firsts be Firsts. Checklist in hand, they sought out the strongest test group they could, then sent them out to a small handful of planets harboring species that might be something more than animals.
On recovery a year later, they lost three of the five to what bureaucrats termed as ‘feral states’, but the other two made the steep climb back to something just shy of normal. So the study tweaked its parameters, gathered another group, and tried again.
And slowly, over time, they hammered out what made a First or Second, and how to control what they had created.
But it wasn’t enough.