OF MAN AND GODS - BOOK TWO - SEEDS OF THE ALLIANCE Greg J Miller
CHAPTER NINETY SEVEN – SOCIETAL ECHOES
After those past few years of continuous travelling, I had again found it somewhat difficult to ease into a proper state of relaxation in my home in Olympus. Accordingly, seeming ill at ease about my own home, I had made the effort to more often visit with various friends and relatives present in the city at that time.
With that state of restlessness remaining, not so long had passed before I had sought to sign up for further defensive training. In part due to Amarés' recommendation, and in part because of my own feelings of needing to do something of purpose.
About one and a half moons later, early into the new year, I made my way up to the Orbital Station to commence the defensive training refresher course. The course itself readily served its purpose, both in refreshing my previous training, along with development of those additional skills derived from the various improvements to the regime.
Although valuable enough in and of itself, I think that I found some greater measure of interest in having the opportunity to spend some time with my father and some other acquaintances that seemingly passed far more of their time upon the station than elsewhere.
As anticipated, I had enjoyed the company of Seriv once again. He had actually taken charge one of the modules of the training during my course. However, I had also taken the opportunity to meet with him upon a number of other occasions. Upon recalling his rather different past, I had again marvelled at how well Seriv had adjusted to living among those of our own kind.
I'd also made the effort to visit with Helios upon numerous occasion, since he was again up there. Aside from only one or two brief instances, I could hardly recall the last time that I met with him in any place other than the station. Helios had related his own involvement in the recent redevelopment of the passive detection relay system that served to provide for warning of the feared threat of enemy incursion into our region of space.
At that time, I was somewhat surprised to learn of Helios' recent marriage to Urania, whom he had worked with upon a number of projects during their recent time upon the Orbital Station. Perhaps just another reminder of the increased distance that evolved between one of my oldest friends and myself.
During visits with Zeus, I had learned a great deal of the many recent projects that occupied the time of many of those that frequented the station. A number of those projects seemed somewhat mundane, although undoubtedly of value in the overall scheme of things. A few had actually served to surprise me just a little.
I had learned of a project that involved the mapping of existing resources upon the moon of our world. It involved the cataloguing of useful mineral deposits and the sub-surface water content. Given that it wasn't significant or readily separated from other material without great effort, it hardly seemed of great import. At least, for the immediately foreseeable future.
Even so, there were still some plans developed for possible mining operations and the establishment of permanent bases. Although those plans were fully threshed out, there was no actual intent of implementation in the observable future. It was more an exercise for something that might prove a viable option for another time.
A similar project had involved the Red Planet. That examination had been even far more detailed and far-reaching in scope. Naturally, the wealth of mineral content upon that world was far more abundant and rich.
The great abundance of frozen water both upon the surface, and just beneath, was also of much greater significance. Despite the tenuous state of the existing atmosphere, examinations were made of viable methods to reform the ecosphere of that dormant world.
A number of plans were formulated that involved engineering directed collision of comets and smaller asteroids upon the surface of that world. Additional plans involved provoking renewed volcanic activity to further stimulate ambient surface temperature. Both to release greater surface heat and increase atmospheric ambience via increased particulate matter in the rarefied air.
Complimentary to those plans was the formulation of a strategy to seed specific algae, fungi, and particularly robust simple plant life across the most viable regions of the resultant climatology of that world.
However, given the state of that planet's magnetosphere, it seemed unlikely that it could ever sustain an environment comparable to that of the Earth. At best, each of those things could contribute to sustaining enclosed habitations, if ever there was intent to pursue such a thing.
Again, all of those detailed designs were not actually planned for implementation any time soon. Still, the exercise had been treated with serious consideration.
Other examinations had been made of some of the various lesser sized bodies located about the asteroid belt beyond the orbit of the Red Planet. A number of which were also valid target locations for possible future mining operations.
There had also been less detailed examinations of some of the planetoids that orbited the largest of the gas giants of our system. Several could be possibly suitable for the purpose of the mining of resources. Just a few vaguely suitable for the purpose of being made habitable after a limited fashion.
Although each of those things had seemed exciting and interesting, the fact that none of them were specifically intended for active pursuit at that time served to diminish my own attraction to considering participation in any such research project.
Although I had lingered briefly upon the station after the completion of my training course, I'd soon returned home to Olympus.
Upon return to Olympus, I had again found myself feeling just a little restless. However, I had remained quite aimless. Again meeting with several of those various friends and family members within the city quite frequently. Attending some public performances more regularly, although making no contribution of my own. Gradually, I eased back into that state of lethargy that I had almost perfected not so long before.
My city-bound status had been occasionally punctuated by those fleeting 'fishing trips' with Poseidon and Mercuré. My somewhat more active social interaction within the city, along with my equally increased monitoring of events via the information service, had afforded me adequate input during those discussions that took place.
Upon a number of occasions, I had thought about actually taking a more active participant role. However, I had not found the motivation to fully provoke such action. In due course, I had once again grown quite comfortable in the role of remote observation. If nothing else, that had served to keep me fully abreast of quite a broad range of current events and developments.
From a relative distance, I had continued to observe the ongoing developments of the various other civilisations of note.
About a year after I had returned to Olympus, the ruler of the fledgling empire that emerged amongst the 'Hindu' states had died. His son had taken his place as ruler and had since continued to expand the reach of that empire.
Aside from the forced unity of those previously independent lands, and of course, the elimination of those less compliant former rulers, it seemed that the lives of the people of that civilisation broadly continued on in much the same manner as before.
The future of that region held some measure of interest. I'd pondered over what might come from a broader unity of those Hindu lands. I'd wondered whether that civilisation would remain contained within its natural borders. The mountains and seas to the north and south, and the deserts and jungles of the west and the east respectively. Those natural barriers might have kept all of it relatively isolated from more distant neighbouring lands. Another possibility also being that the consolidation of those lands might breed further outward expansion. Given some of what had passed recently, I'd also considered the possibility that the Mauryan Empire might break apart into something akin to earlier paradigms. It remained far too early to make any reasonable prediction.
Further eastward, the lands ruled by the Zhou had continued on much as before. I had observed further reports of periodic instability arising from disputes between the various clan rulers. Nevertheless, after the settling of the dust, things had largely remained as before.
As I had already noted, change seemed to rarely come very quickly to the core of that eastern civilisation. Accordingly, it remained just so.
Except for those reclaimed by Hindu interests, most of the various regions that once belonged the Persian Empire had continued to exist as separate political entities under the lineage of Alexander's former generals. Although no longer necessarily directly connected to Macedonia in any direct fashion, some remained allied to their neighbours at times, some warring upon them at other times. No obvious overarching unity existed amongst the fragments of the broken Macedonian Empire that Alexandros had forged for a brief time.
The land of Aegyptus, that had been 'liberated' from Persian domination by Alexandros, had merely traded one foreign rule for another. Ptolemy had effectively taken that land for his own after the death of Alexandros. He had ruled as monarch of that region since that time.
Ptolemy had shifted the seat of power to Alexandria, situated by the northern coast where the Nile flowed into the sea. During his long rule, he had extended the reach of that land to again include territories to the north claimed during earlier eras, as well as some of the islands never before part of that claim.
He had brought in a number of Macedonians to serve in his political administration and martial forces. He'd introduced a broadened agricultural activity to the region that had proved very successful for the land. So much so, that a vigorous system of trade had resulted. The growth of commerce via export and import had brought a renewed prosperity to the land.
Ptolemy had further encouraged the ongoing blending of the Hellenistic Macedonian culture with that of the local land, with some measure of respect for the old traditions that had remained intact to that day.
Still, in my own eyes it remained but a pale shadow of what it had once been.
Macedonia continued to hold effective control over most of the Helladic mainland peninsular, except for Sparta. It also continued to either directly or indirectly hold onto many of the islands and a few of the lands across the sea to the east that lay south of the Hellespont.
I would suppose that it could be said that the influence of Macedonia continued to be more of a cultural nature than a political one. Not that such a thing should be underestimated.
Although political alignments remained broadly diffuse, the legacy of Hellenistic cultural influence, via Macedonian interest, had become spread across a broad region. Some element of that cultural tradition reached throughout the eastern Mediterranean and right across regions of the fallen Persian Empire, including that of Aegyptus to the south.
Even aside from those coastal colonies that remained upon the Latin peninsular with lands bordering the expanding claim of Roma, the culture of the Romans had become somewhat influenced by elements that originated with Athens, Korinthos and the like.
Not to forget that the foundations of the earliest Roman settlement had originally come about from elements of Mycenaean migration after the plagues following the aftermath of the long since mythologised Trojan wars.
The Carthaginians had remained the greatest of seagoing traders of the Mediterranean region. In terms of territorial expansion, very little had changed for some time. Some expansion of trade had occurred. Although some effort had been directed toward seeking new trade interests further afield, more effort commonly involved the cultivation of existing ones.
Given that state of affairs, the civilisation that emanated from Carthage, with its numerous allied ports and colonies, had seemed vibrant and active from the perspective of trade and prosperity. However, despite all that movement it had also seemed rather static. In most other respects aside from commerce, broader Carthaginian society had become rather complacent with that state of affairs. Not necessarily a bad thing. Nevertheless, something of a curiosity given the shifting sands of many other nearby civilisations.
Case in point, clearly demonstrated by activities of the Roman Republic. The Romans had successfully defeated the neighbouring opposition to immediate expansion across the Latin peninsular. The most recent being the final defeat of the Samnite tribes of the highlands. Not to forget the impending conflict with those remaining colonial ports along the eastern coast that maintained strong ties with lands under the influence of Macedonia.
Although conflict, or the threat of conflict, seemed to mark much of the recent expansion of Roman interests, that was only one aspect of the civilisation.
It was interesting to note that each of those neighbouring lands that been conquered by the expansion of the Republic had become fully folded into their civilisation. The free people of those lands coming to mostly enjoy the same consideration as other citizens of the Republic. Such as it was, with maintained disparity separating classes by wealth and position.
Still, the culture of Roma had come to be the equal of any other developed civilisations of the Mediterranean region. Commerce, literature, and other number of cultural aspects had given rise to a rich and vibrant society. One that was by no means stagnant.
That very year brought about an interesting development within the social strata of Roman society. The structure of Roman governance seemed a reasonably complex arrangement compared to that of some others that had arisen before.
Aside from the central governing body of the Senate, there were a number of other legislative assemblies and councils that served varied purpose. Some directly subordinate to the Roman Senate, and others that played other complimentary roles almost independent of the central governing body.
Apart from the various tiers of Magistrates, a number of other bodies existed, such as the Comitia Tributa, the 'Tribal Assembly'. An entity that had grown from the earliest structures of Roman governance. Another was the Comitia Centuriata, the 'Century Assembly'. That body provided a representational voice for the soldiers of the Republic.
Those without active voice in any level of the Republic had been the masses of free Romans that had occupied the lower levels of that society, known collectively as Plebeians.
For more than a hundred years, the commoners of the Republic had fought for political rights. That year, the long struggle had finally come to fruition. The Plebeians had formed an assembly of their own, the Concilium Plebis. That assembly had elected leaders known as Tribunes, and then gradually through the work of those elected officials had come to gain the same political rights as the patrician class. The Plebeians had won the right to hold any public or religious office, and most importantly, had gained proper equality under the laws of Roma.
Still, vast differences in wealth and social position continued to separate most commoners from patricians. Nevertheless, Plebeians had finally won some more tangible rights as proper citizens of the Republic.
From that time forth, aside from those bound to indentured servitude or the like, all free citizens of the Republic held the right to have some voice in the future of Roma, should they chose to exercise such. Although not necessarily a thing of immediate practical change, at the least, it seemed one in the spirit of hopefulness.
Those fresh developments within the structure of Roman society had caused me to consider comparison with other governmental structures observed thus far. With some derivation of earlier structures, the Roman Republic did come to represent something rather new amongst the more developed civilisations of the Earth.
Previously, most civilisations had developed something along the lines of Kingdoms and Empires. The rule of oligarchies had marked some interesting developments. Something akin to earlier tribal structures, where tribal elders held the council of rule. However, that structure typically replaced elders with those that held the most wealth.
The blending of those two structures had also emerged commonly enough in some places during recent times. What remained of the Macedonian rule followed something of that kind. At least that still under that direct rule. A ruling King at the centre. Many of the outer provinces governed by oligarchies that answered to the Macedonian Ruler.
The Athenian democracy of recent times, despite its ultimate demise, was an interesting case in several ways. I had sometimes wondered if either Solon or Kleisthenés had received some of their initial ideas from someone of Olympus. Perhaps, that is nothing more than a conceit. Although some of what had been devised for the reformed governance of Athens, both before and after Peisistratos, had somewhat reflected that of Olympus, much of it differed notably. Enough so, that the Council Assembly of Olympus had later slightly adjusted minor aspects their own structure after witnessing the initial success of Athenian democracy.
Although the Athenian democratic governance had lacked some more effective checks and balances to keep the majority vote from occasioning unwise action in certain circumstances, it had proved quite effective, for the most part. After having been broken and rebuilt from within upon more than a single occasion, it had only finally fallen aside under great pressure from outside forces. At that particular time, and given the ongoing shifting of political influence across the lands, I'd remained optimistic that Athens might one day again restore their state of self-determined democracy.
Although somewhat similar to that style of democratic governance, the development of the structure of the governance of Olympus had come about via different influences. It could be said that it began with Apolis, the Titannian city of earlier times. Effectively, the Council of Apolis consisted of city elders and those most wealthy that held direct interest in such things. That body ruled as a collective, but typically remained dominated by the appointed or elected leader of the time. Although the leader of the council held the loudest voice, the position could not hold without the support of the majority.
Although the general populace had no official voice in governance, any person of Apolis could petition to directly address the Council. At the least, that voice could be heard. It then fell to whether the members of the Council could be swayed.
After the fall of Apolis, in the newly constructed Olympus, a new governing body was developed. Some of it based upon the earlier structure of Apolis. Certain elements were drawn from local Cyclopeian customs. Other aspects were drawn from the models of governance of the old worlds. Some of it uniquely tailored to suit the specifics of our own circumstances.
The system that emerged was effectively a representative democracy. One where the elected council managed the governance of our society for the most part. However, all citizens of Olympus held the right to raise the attention of the Council via proper channels. In that same manner, issues of great import could also be forced to public consultation and vote. Although hardly a daily occurrence, the expectation and practical application remained openly in place.
After a fashion, aspects of that form of governance were somewhat reflected in the Athenian model. However, the rest of our social structure differed greatly.
For a start, all the land and essential services of Olympus remained the property of the people, managed by the state. No individual actually owned land or property outright. Certainly a home or other structure could be leased from the state, effectively for an undefined period of time, unless there was a specific requirement for re-allocation. Such a lease could be transferred to a family member or other designated person. Upon the forfeit or transfer of a lease holding, the former lease holder could seek reimbursement for permanent improvements to a dwelling, or have the compensated value transferred to a new lease holding.
The utilities and farms of the city were considered essential to the ongoing maintenance of Olympus. As such, also remained as property of the state, managed and run by administrative departments of the Council. Electrical power, water resources and waste treatment all fell under the banner of state management. The same applied to the protein farms and vegetable farms located within the industrial complexes. It was a similar case with the sporadic mining operations that ventured forth to acquire needed resources for primary processing.
Within Olympus, there were no money-lenders or money-changers common to some other cultures. All matters of currency were managed by the state. Effectively, all citizens of Olympus held credit with the state. The record of credit with the state maintained and readily accessible for matters of general commerce. Facilities for the borrowing of credit from the state were available. Although rarely called upon by individuals since there was little call for truly large outlay of expense. It was more a resource that was used by business owners, or collectively owned businesses that dealt with larger sums of credit.
Even though most of the primary resources and services remained the property of all Olympus, commerce and free enterprise were very much an active part of the overall economic activity of our society.
Fresh foods were primarily produced by the state run facilities, but purchased and then sold on to the public via the various businesses that operated out of the markets. Of course, fresh produce was sold for relatively modest margin and processed products for a greater cost of credit. For another example, prepared foods purchased from the stalls that lined the central square would attract an even higher cost as a result of the services of the stall operators. In another instance, the purchase of prepared foods from the various taverns or restaurants of the entertainment district would cost an even greater relative expense of credit.
It was a similar case with other second-tier industries. Materials for textile production had effectively come from the state owned farms or the like. Then processed by businesses operating within the industrial complexes. Processed materials then sold on to other businesses that manufactured clothing, bedding and the like. Some sold directly to the public. Some sold to other smaller businesses that held stock from a variety of sources, then on-selling directly to the public.
The commerce of other items such as furnishings, kitchen appliances, lamps, and household viewer units functioned in much the same manner. There were businesses that made certain products, and other businesses or individual craft-persons that re-made such products into different or unique items.
Although there was certainly some measure of trade between the cities and settlements of our greater community, the economy of Olympus was largely contained within the city. It was mostly the same case with Aesgard. The settlement of Eastern Highland had become fairly self sufficient in terms of primary produce, but relied upon supply from Olympus for most industrialised products. The lesser bases and outposts generally relied upon such supply for nearly everything but water and some locally acquired fresh foods.
However in the case of the Orbital Station, if not for the need of processed metals and other materials needed for specific projects, it would have remained fully independent and self sustaining in terms of primary needs.
To my own mind, general examination of Olympus itself was almost how I would have imagined the commerce of the old worlds during the height of the Alliance, only in microcosm.
Even aside from the primary difference of public ownership of most of Olympus' infrastructure and other essential resources, I could still observe much familiarity in many of the other city building cultures of our world. Still, even aside from the technological differences, there was probably one major aspect that stood in marked contrast. In our own society, there was no such thing as voluntary indentured servitude or unabashed forced slavery.
In some respects, I would suppose that it could be said that our measure of technological development served in place of such a thing. Still, even during the earlier days of Apolis there had not been any practise of that nature. The closest example that could be drawn was the punishment of public offenders made to provide service or reparation as a result of legal judgement. Hardly a common occurrence in Olympus. Perhaps a little more common amongst the northern Titannians of Aesgard. Often relating to unruly drunken behaviour. Even more so immediately after the most excited periods of festival. Nevertheless, such punishments did not amount to the practices of slavery that was common to many of the mundane cultures.
Still, I did recall that the records of the old worlds indicated that variations of slavery had existed upon various worlds at one time or another, before the coming of the era of the Alliance.
It had not been an aspect of Terragodaean culture at any time. At least as far as I knew. It was a rather different case with the Titannians. During the earlier periods of warfare upon the Titannian homeworld, it was a common practice to enslave the conquered. Even once the Titannians had become joined as a single planetary force, something of that nature continued.
Only once the Titannians had reached out to wage conquest upon the neighbouring worlds did it pass out of internal Titannian culture. By that time, no free Titannian citizen could be held to indentured servitude.
However, even then one exception remained. Any civil prisoner could still be forced to serve in the bottom rung of the military against their choosing. A slavery of sorts reserved only for the criminally incarcerated.
The following wars of conquest against the neighbouring worlds of the Titannian system soon brought the return of the practice of enslaving those conquered peoples. It had finally subsided only once the wheels of commerce had fully taken hold throughout the system, and the Selki and Selute populations granted equal status with their Titannian conquerors. That circumstance had only come about a relatively short measure of time before the first alliance with Terragodaea.
Somewhat similar circumstances had transpired upon worlds of the Terin system. Both during internal periods of conflict, as well as during the times of conflict between the worlds, as the Terini asserted dominance over the other planets of the system.
Slavery had not been an aspect of the recorded history of the Cyclopeian or Kirron home worlds. However, it had arisen at one time or another upon many of the other Alliance worlds before the time of the Alliance. That had also been the case during the earlier periods of Gielaan history and often the case upon the various worlds dominated by the Sa'La'Ra'Heaa.
I would suppose that the point was that such practices had not been so uncommon amongst a number of our ancestors, during earlier periods. That being the case, it should not be so surprising that it would emerge throughout the developing cultures of the Earth. Not something that I might approve of, but it did almost seem a part of the sentient condition. At the least, during the earlier transitional periods of cultural development.
As I also recalled, even far more developed cultures were not totally immune to the emergence of such things. The development of the artificial lifeforms of the Alliance had almost led to something of that sort. In that particular case, those artificial lifeforms were by their own nature seemingly willing to serve their creators in such a capacity. It was really only through an act of forceful will on the part of our ancestors that the sentient artificial lifeforms of the Alliance were delivered from purely servile existence. At least in principle.
Thankfully, matters of that regard had been fully explored long before my own time. The sentient Oracles brought to the Earth, and those constructed since, had always enjoyed equal footing with their organic counterparts. Still, that remained according to their nature. By that very nature, Oracles felt the need to be useful contributors to our society. At the same time, holding the strong desire to pursue their own interests. Although not compelled to do so, Oracles were primarily driven toward dedicated service to their community and vigorous interaction outside of their shells.
To that end, some of what occupied the existence of those Oracles tended to border upon the menial. The primary Master Oracle upon the Orbit Station managed and maintained the operational running of that vessel. A necessary, but seemingly tedious task that the Oracle undertook with great pride. The multi-faceted Oracle oversaw the many integrated systems of the vessel, as well as operating the numerous non-sentient automatons of various form and function that served to effect the maintaining of that station.
Within the farms and factories of Olympus, there were also many non-sentient automatons operated either directly by Oracles or in cooperation with others. Although many were not, some were actually bipedal humanoid in shape and form. Still, there was no independently sentient mind inside. Philosophically, that was the key point. Those automatons were non-sentient machinations. No more than tools that functioned under the operation of a sentient controller.
Aside from work that needed to be performed by use of an automaton of some sort, many other tasks that often fell to the enslaved within the mundane cultures formed the basis of thriving enterprise within the community of Olympus.
Businesses that provided services of seemingly menial tasks were often favoured by the younger generations, changing vocation often.
It was the kind of work that required a lesser measure of dedication. Easy to learn. Easy to put aside. A limited impact upon any long termed aspirations. Generally, the kind of thing that did not terribly interfere with the lifestyle of those members of those younger generations.
Still, some would later go on establish businesses employing others in that fashion.
One direct example was the series of cleaners that I employed for my home. Each of them were rather young. It seemed that the staff were regularly rotated. Rarely the same faces for more than a few moons in a row. They were provided by a Cyclopeian woman. She had started out in that manner when she was just a youth herself and had later come to run a business that managed a fluctuating number of staff ranging between fifteen and thirty.
I had expected that one day many of the other civilisations of our world would eventually come to develop a social structure that somewhat reflected that of our own. It seemed a natural progression to my thinking. However, just how long a time would need to pass before such a thing would take hold, I could not readily imagine.
Most of those musings were largely reflections of the considerations that came to me following conversations between Poseidon, Mercuré and myself during our brief 'fishing trips', that had seemingly become somewhat more regular at around that particular time.
Collecting myself at times, I sometimes felt the passing mood to turn my attention back to historical duties of some sort or something along those lines. Nevertheless, I had mostly continued to resist that fleeting instinct. Instead remaining relatively content with casual observation during my extended period of idle lethargy.
Just a few short years would pass before something interrupted that period.