Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Microstory 1627: For a Favor

Most worlds progress in about the same way. Sure, there are plenty of notable differences, but they generally have a lot of things in common, and there are some things that just won’t happen, because they do not support that species’ survival, whether speaking evolutionarily, or socially. A species that can’t, or won’t, protect itself, won’t last very long, because nobody else is going to do it for them...most of the time. Guardian races do exist, and I’ll get to one or two of those in the future. The universe I’m talking about today didn’t have guardians, but the humans of one planet still managed to remain quite peaceful throughout their pre-singularity struggling period. That’s  probably not what you would notice if you went there during that time, though. You would probably first realize that the people of Whrweh never had any standard form of currency. They maintained a barter economy until they no longer needed to exchange goods and services with each other, when automation took over. They managed this by sticking to isolated pockets of civilization. They lived underground, and figured out how to build tallish structures pretty early on, which allowed them to remain confined in a smaller area, and leave more space between each region. They didn’t need to spread out too much, and they didn’t want to. They had recycling, and minimalistic principles, and they did not like waste. Surprisingly, this form of isolationism never led to war. In fact, though they did experience some violence, it was nowhere near what most civilizations had. They had no use for it, because everyone always had their own resources, and left others alone. Each pocket was pretty self-sufficient, and with little occasion to reach out to other pockets for help, there was also less of a chance of encountering conflict.

One thing they did to keep the peace was to have a sort of unwritten policy of sharing knowledge with each other. When a pocket made a breakthrough in science or technology, they wouldn’t be obligated to actually give the results to other pockets, but they would give them the tools they needed to develop it on their own. When someone invented the plow, they told everyone else about it, and pretty soon, everyone had a plow. Then, when someone else realized they could hook a plow up to a work animal, they told everyone about that too, and now they all had better plows, including the person who invented the first version. This had the added benefit of lessening their negative impact on their environment. By giving all new information to everyone, they were assured that someone would quickly discover downsides, and deeper solutions. They skipped right over using fossil fuels to power their vehicles, and other machines, because they soon learned that electricity was cleaner, and more efficient. This all just kept going until the whole planet was so advanced, there was no longer any need to stay separate. Technically, they were living in independent regions, but they were already one peoples, so coming together officially was a no-brainer. Once robots and artificial intelligence were created, everything fell into place. They shed their surface and underground dwellings, and flew off into the sky, to live in something called an orbital ring. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a giant ring that goes all around their planet, like you might find around Saturn or Neptune. Except this is artificial, solid and continuous, and capable of housing their entire population many times over. They did away with the bartering system for the most part, though elements of it are still there. You are allowed to have anything you want, as long as you contribute in your own way. Your peers are responsible for determining whether you contribute enough to be worthy of any given amenity, and for the most part, this works out with no terrible disputes. A second type of bartering was created in order to handle external interactions. Some humans left their home world, and went off to live elsewhere. Humanoid aliens also developed on their own worlds, and formed their own systems of government. When dealing with these people, the Whrwehs always ask for a favor, in exchange for whatever it is they’re asking for. This favor is never something they actually need, but they believe it’s only fair that the other side make some kind of effort, or even a sacrifice, in order to receive something in return. This was all great, and it protected them from Ochivari invasion, but it would not last. While time travel was not possible within the bounds of this universe, that rule does not extend to external forces, and one little mission changed everything about everything.

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