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Shepherd Moon

 

Prologue

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Short History

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From Chapter 1 of the book “The Earther Era,” by the Erocii historian, Dr. Autumn-Sun-Rising-in-the-East (EAN (ISBN-99) 9780319999979; ISBN (ISBN-96): 0319999979; genre - history; publishing year - 2519AD (Earth); classic print & hardcover publisher - McGraw-Hill Galactic; ebook/omnibook publisher - Amazon-Penguin Solar; Erocii University Library folio#1701156131251211, Erocii University 1701)

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“It is almost a universal fact that, with most of the peoples of the galaxy, war is a racial trait.

“The Homo sapiens of Earth were no different. Many of Earth’s famous human historians recall the many battles of many of their old island-nations, when progress and prosperity were achieved through tribal one-upmanship and routine economic deception, sabotage, and, very often, open warfare.

“But, as it is also common with most of the peoples of the galaxy, there is always a turning point, when the people develop concepts of ‘Morality’, of ‘Civilization’, of a so-called ‘Fundamental Right or Wrong’, and the willingness to live by them.

“To the Elyrans, it was the coming of a messiah that heralded the beginning of a new age, when slavery was prohibited, when discrimination and bigotry (in most things, at least) became almost apocryphal traits of older generations.

“To the Tirosians, it was the discovery of star travel that brought on this new awakening, when star travel gave its people an opportunity to channel its natural warrior proclivities outside of its own system, hence bringing them together and unifying their people into one integral society conquering the alien and unknown instead of different nomadic city-nations conquering each other.

“To the Dixx population, it was just a matter of time, time enough for the people to learn the benefits of working together instead of against each other. And, in their first century after the Turning, a planetary government was formed.

“To the people of Earth, it was a bit different, though not exactly unique: It was a war that started it all.

“There have been only two other times in their history that there was war approaching this magnitude. The first global war brought devastation to many of the Earth's nations as well as poverty and tragedy to many of its people.

“The second was the same but on a larger scale. Technology allowed the routine massacre of whole villages and towns; misguided individuals allowed the mass killings of whole nations, almost bringing them to the brink of extinction. And the advent of the nuclear age brought home in graphic examples of its devastating potential the possibility of global genocide.

“Many great thinkers then thought that the ultimate weapon of that time, the first true offspring of the nuclear age which was the Atom Bomb, and its great potential for destruction, would frighten them enough to unite them and bring about global cooperation and peace.

“To a certain extent, it was true. Former restrictions between nations were dropped and free trade between them was almost the rule.

“However, mutual distrust forced many nations to produce and stockpile atom bombs, and the newer and deadlier permutations of the atom bomb, for fear of the others having more than they did.

“It came to a point where the mere threat of using these weapons was enough to turn the tide of battle. They called this policy of government ‘MAD,’ or the ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ policy: a deterrent to those who would want to use these weapons.

“There developed what they called the ‘Cold War.’ Seemingly open relations between nations were maintained but nuclear stockpiling continued at an ever-increasing rate, with political intrigue in the background.

“So-called ‘Nuclear Bans’ and ‘Nuclear Treaties’ notwithstanding, this escalation continued. Many world leaders said that it was only a matter of time before one of these weapons was accidentally or deliberately launched or detonated, thereby triggering a third world war in which, they warned, perhaps no one would survive.

“Even after the end of the Cold War, after the fall of that great communist hegemony, the USSR, the threat of nuclear death did not disappear. For, even if the USSR was gone, the machinery and technology was still there. And the broken pieces of the USSR scrabbled for their share.

“Many of the populace did not care about, or were unfamiliar with, the precarious balance of the world, and life continued.

“During much of the twenty-first century, with the increasing unrest in what were then called the ‘middle east’ nations, the near collapse of the world financial system brought about by the runaway financial debt of the leading nations at the time, and numerous natural disasters brought on by so-called ‘global warming’ and unchecked pollution and deforestation - the nuclear threat was just one of many that almost spelled disaster for the Human Race.

“In the fullness of time, two world powers coalesced, superseding all former global alliances: the Western Alliance forming around the old Allies of the second world war and other economic powers, and the Eastern Coalition, forming around the Chinese, the middle-eastern powers and the economically beleaguered former Soviet nations, with their leftover nuclear arsenals and growing civil unrest. This further aggravated the unstable balance of power on the planet. Predictably, the popular press called the Coalition the Commies, or the Reds or some such. And, naturally, the Western Alliance was called the Allies.

“Life went on.

“More than a hundred years after the second world war, a technological boom was on, made possible by the almost open cooperation between nations and with it relative peace (not counting the odd dictator or two): advancements in genetics and medicine made most diseases, including the twin scourges of cancer and AIDS, almost things of the past; new discoveries in the physical sciences helped to recover lost ground in ecological preservation and made it possible for Humanity to colonize the rest of the planets around their sun, pushed on by a phenomenal increase in population (despite radical, and sometimes brutal attempts at birth control, Humanity was safely past the twenty billion mark).

“But even in this brave new frontier, political and regional bias extended. The Outer Planets, as the colonies were called, were, from the start, military outposts of either the Allies or the Commies.

“This was the war's trigger. Both sides bickered over settlement rights, boundaries and resources, causing international tempers to flare out of control: former trade restrictions that had been lifted were again reinstituted; travel to and from countries was again made difficult by even more rigid immigration and travel laws. The century's shining moments were at an end and the people knew it.

“Most nations were holding their breath, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was just a matter of time before someone pressed a button somewhere and started it all.

“And then, a spy for the Reds discovered a fully functional missile bunker on the Allies' base on the dark side of the moon, i.e. the far side. ‘Dark’ doesn’t mean this side is literally in shadow – this was a carry-over twentieth-century term similar to the old name for the African continent, which was known as ‘the dark continent’ because it remained unexplored and unknown for a time. The moon’s far side was never seen Earthside, so it was easy to hide things in there from earthbound people.

“It was not as if both did not have military installations on their bases on the other Outer Planets, ready to fire their deadly nuclear arsenal at each other, but both kept them secret.

“This, of course, aggravated the already worsening international situation and fanatics on both sides were ready to take advantage of it…”

“THE WAR ITSELF was short and brutal. The nuclear exchange only lasted for nineteen hours. But skirmishes between both sides happened on and off for a year, and the devastation lasted for five more years. Almost nineteen of Humanity's more than twenty billion perished in the war or from after-effects of the war (a hidden blessing, some of the more radical sociologists said).

“None won. Everyone lost.

“Were it not for the Reds' converted spaceships that made circuitous orbits around the Colonies and the Mother Planet, and sifted the wide seas forty times over, sucking out the nuclear cancer from the air and the oceans and the Earth with technology newly discovered in their desperate race against time, it is doubtful the remaining billion would have survived.

“A substantial portion of the Earth’s infrastructure remained intact, due to the use of ERW, or Enhanced Radiation Weapons, or colloquially ‘neutron bombs.’ These were designed to maximize casualties but to keep structures intact. Because of this, naturally, the more industrialized nations were the first to recover, such as the United States, most of Europe, China, Russia, Japan and most of the so-called ‘first world nations.’

“The colonies outside of Earth were also on the brink of collapse since resupply missions were gone for a while. But there was a bit of a grace period. Even back in the twenty-first century, the old International Space Station could survive for up to three months without the need for resupply. At the time of the third world war, the colonies could survive for about a year, which was enough for the remaining people Earthside to get back enough space capacity to give the colonies at least some assistance. The necessity to be self-sufficient also pushed the colonists’ ingenuity into overdrive and they became self-sufficient enough to survive until the situation on Earth normalized.

“The tired and beaten remnants of each side sued for peace and new preliminary treaties were drawn. As it was agreed, each jettisoned their stockpiles of nuclear death towards their sun, to be consumed by the nuclear power of a different sort. Those forgotten were left to rot.

“The old United Nations was reborn and transformed, from an ineffectual advisory forum to a real international organization with the true power of government and law.

“The treaties, drawn in haste and desperation, were reviewed, corrected, strengthened, and finally ratified by all. The original documents were preserved and kept in clear blocks of Crystalline metal, and displayed in the main lobby of the old U.N. building, ready for all to see. The final documents were hand-written on real paper, to show to everyone the solemnity and importance of them. These were also preserved in clear stasis boxes, as paper and ink would not survive the ravages of time, and likewise displayed. True peace, or the closest approximation humans are able to make of it, was at hand.

“Many doom-criers, so many in Earth's history, have said that this would never last, that Man was a natural-born predator, a killer. Alexandra Romarkin, the fifteenth and longest-elected secretary-general (for secretary-generals were now elected by the global population) of the New United Nations said that, if that was so, then all was lost. But Humanity would try, she said. That was what civilization was all about. And if they were successful, then Humanity would have evolved a step higher towards the ideal, a step closer to touching the face of God.

“The populace was able to recover. The natural and physical sciences were again moving forward more rapidly than they ever had in the past century, allowing the bases on the moon and the Outer Planets to become true colonies - self-sufficient in every way, allowing war-ravaged lands and seas to be recovered and made fertile again, allowing forests denuded of all life to be reseeded and again made alive, full of living things.

“It was again a new world, opening endless possibilities for Humanity.

“As with the Dixx, it seemed that it was the time of The Turning, when, though still a young species compared to the other galactic races - the earliest traces of human civilization dating back only a mere fifty thousand Earth years - Human Civilization passed through the crucible and survived and, as a species, became wise enough to coexist. But, like the Tirosians, Earth's first taste of space travel, the small steps Man had taken to colonize and explore his planets, only whetted his appetite for exploration.

“For many generations, humans had believed in the existence of other sentient beings in the universe. And maybe humans were now ready to join them.

“In that way were the humans the same as the Tirosians. Perhaps the expected exodus to other planets would curb Man's destructive tendencies.

“It was just a romantic dream then, star-travel. Man's technology just wasn't ready for it. But, as a very old and hackneyed piece of human wit goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Man's natural persistency and curiosity, perhaps a carry-over from his simian past, carried him over the hurdle.

“Man's first interstellar spacecraft, the multi-generation starship Earthship Two, was the first physical manifestation of this new direction.

“As expected, it was of a very crude design by present spacecraft standards, flying just below the speed of light. But it was a start. Onboard, it did have an adaption of Earth’s Seren communication system, which allowed distance communication at about 4.7 times the speed of light (the Seren stations could do it thousands of times faster, however).

“True star travel was just over the horizon, for scientists were just on the brink of completing a workable star drive, incorporating and expanding on newly discovered principles of gravitation and the artificial generation of gravity that made the recovery of the mother planet and the creation of Earthship Two possible.

“At that point, they were almost satisfied by speed-of-light travel. But the clues that their gravity-generation machines gave them hinted at the possibility of exceeding that universal speed limit without the need to conjure up open-ended wormholes or other still-improbable phenomena. They knew that the possibility to surpass the speed of light was there, but something was missing, some bit of knowledge just out of reach of their present science. They knew they were on the right track. What they needed was a clue, just a clue, to make their drive workable. In short, as one scientist said, they needed to have a look at a real working star-drive.

“But this new preoccupation of the Earth's scientists was swept away. In the year 2299, fifty years after the signing of the new treaties and the third world war, four months into Earthship Two's maiden voyage, something happened.

“First contact.”

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About the author

Bobbi-C

  • Washington DC
  • Mistress of Confusion

Bio: Bobbi Cabot is a transgender girl in her thirties (35 y.o. as of 2016), who transitioned in 2005. She is known as "Roberta J. Cabot," "Bobbie-C," "Bobbie," "Bobbi" and "Bobbi-C" in the sites where she posts her stories.

Though not a professional writer, Bobbi is under the delusion that she writes passably well and indulges this delusion by sometimes posting stories, which is, thankfully, very seldom.

Bobbi's day job (the phrase "day job" is hereby stressed) involves being the big cheese of the overseas BPO practice of a Top 100 computer technology corporation.

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