Monday, August 9, 2021

Microstory 1686: Emergence

About a hundred and twenty years after nearly the entire human population of Earth retreated into underground bunker cities to survive an asteroid impact, the surface was ready to support life again. The impact winter was over years prior, but the descendants of the original survivors wanted to make sure the planet had enough time to recuperate before they started messing with it again. Plantlife returned on its own, but most of the animal life was gone. They were able to bring a few individuals down to the bunkers with them, but the majority of species would be lost forever. Some did manage to survive on the surface after impact, but their lives had been really difficult, and none of them was available to eat. What cows, pigs, chickens, and other livestock the people managed to hold onto would not be able to repopulate the world for a very long time. Fortunately for them, there had never been enough meat for it to be part of the people’s diets anyway once the event occurred. Everyone was vegetarian, whether they would have chosen the diet on their own, or not. When they emerged, that still couldn’t change, and it probably never would. They set free the animals they had, and let them do whatever they wanted with their lives. It was time to rebuild. At this point in history, the people were pretty advanced. In the underground cities, they focused on technological advancements that they could actually use underground—medicine and longevity, efficient energy production, etc.—but that didn’t mean they abandoned all else. They had not been able to do much space exploration for real, but they developed quite sophisticated simulations, so they came out with a great deal of understanding of the concept. They were brilliant engineers, and masters of architecture, and they were ready to expand.

The bunkers at the end would be unrecognizable to anyone who first stepped down into them over a century ago. The original creations were simple, fairly empty, and available for heavy modification. This was what they did over the years; continue to improve their living spaces. Now that they were back outside, they adapted these skills to towering buildings in the open air, and they did it extremely quickly. Within a single lifetime, it would be difficult to tell that the people of this world ever lived exclusively underground. And it really was exclusive. The few survivors who both chose not to go to the bunkers, and manage to survive the impact, did not last very long during the winter. They didn’t have enough resources, enough skills to figure out workarounds, or enough people to propagate the species. As for the descendants, not everyone wanted to live as their ancestors. They were born underground, they were comfortable down there, and that was where they wanted to stay. No one had a problem with that. Their choice was only going to serve to protect the environment, which needed as much help as it could get. A high number of people wanted to live on the sea, as it was something most of them could barely fathom. Pictures and movies could just not do it justice. Likewise with space. They had fusion power, excellent life support systems, and a particularly strong desire to see what else was out there; even more so than other cultures experienced. So they sent out their probes, and built their passenger ships, and began the interplanetary expansion, followed by the interstellar one. All things considered, they probably weren’t too far behind where they would have been had the asteroid not struck. Now they could do it faster, easier, and without making as many mistakes. The people prospered.

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