Friday, June 4, 2021

Microstory 1640: Give Me Shelter

I’m going to be contradicting myself a little bit, but this is a pretty extreme case, and a significant exception to the general rules. I mentioned Guardian Races once, but didn’t get into what they are. They take on various forms, so it’s just a catch-all term that refers to any species—or even a small group of people—who, in some way, takes care of another species, usually secretly. Since I’ve established that aliens are possible under certain conditions, and with certain caveats, it’s easy to see how one of these alien races can become this for humans. Indeed, even humans can become a Guardian Race for an alien planet, which would have evolved using one of the methods described in the previous story. Or, it can be something radical. The humans on this version of Earth evolved, developed technology, and fell to the Ochivari’s sterility virus. But it didn’t happen all at once. A lucky few conspiracy theorists caught on to what was happening, and made preparations. They protected themselves against the virus in secret underground bunkers that were completely self-sufficient. They had plenty of resources down there, but they did not have a lot of space. So while the rest of the population was slowly dying off, the survivors deliberately kept their population low. Each couple was expected to have two children, and no more than that. The population would increase with each generation, but no single generation would exceed the maximum. They were able to get four generations using this method before the math got to be too annoying. They didn’t want anyone to have any children with anyone that they were related to. Everyone in the fifth generation was an only child, with only one couple deciding to not have kids at all, leaving the final number at eleven. These remaining eleven didn’t want what happened to their people to happen again to someone else, so they hatched a plan. Fortunately, they were in a position to do it.

The bunker wasn’t first filled with scientists and doctors. They had to learn about all that along the way, using an extensive library of knowledge that they had the wisdom to take down there with them. Over the century, the descendants kept progressing, and pushing the boundaries of science ever forward. Their predecessors were close to finding the trailhead to immortality, so all they had to do was finish the work. They figured it out while the last generation’s parents and grandparents were still alive, but they all chose to stay behind, and eventually die. This was when the eleven left the bunker, and ventured back out onto the surface. They didn’t stop there, though. They made great use of their now infinite lives, and continued to advance. They built a ship, and launched it into outer space, where they began to explore the galaxy, predominantly searching for other lifeforms. They didn’t find any other intelligent races, but they did come across a promising world. Using their science, they protected and coaxed a single cellular organism in the primordial waters along, making sure it evolved into multicellular life, and pressed on from there. They didn’t genetically engineer anything, but they helped one evolutionary branch survive everything that would have otherwise prevented it from ultimately evolving intelligence. They helped them pass all of their Great Filters, and become an alien race. The eleven immortals stayed with their children for over a billion years, all the while remaining hidden. They prevented their creations—which called themselves the Sheltren—from making the same mistakes that Earth did, and ensured that the Ochivari would not come for them as well. Once the Sheltren were sufficiently advanced themselves, the eleven revealed the truth, and celebrated their accomplishment. The Sheltren were grateful, and motivated. If they could be half as dedicated as the humans had been with them, the universe could become a wondrous place. The Sheltren did not remain in their universe, however. Inspired by their own Guardians, they found a way to travel the bulkverse, and become a full race of Guardians, so they too could protect other planets from the Ochivari, and other threats.

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