Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Betty. Many people wonder how moons of gas giants so far outside the Goldilocks Zone of a star can be habitable themselves. The secret is that gas giants are truly massive, comparable more to stars than to their lesser, terrestrial brethren. With that mass comes a major gravitational well that pulls and pushes at the moons trapped in their miniature, substellar systems. That friction heats those moons from the inside out, and that heat makes all the difference.
2 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Peloran Treatments promised to make us all healthier and to live for centuries. They performed a five-year study and it worked perfect. No side effects. Old men and women on their deathbeds stood up and walked away after a few days or weeks. They were miracle drugs and the public screamed for them to be released to the masses. Why should anyone be sick or die of old age when we could stop it? So we did. We welcomed the Second Age of Methuselah with open arms.
3 – Hello, my name is Charles. We’ve had stories of people going to other worlds and coming back for millennia. For the ancient Norse, it was traveling the rainbow bridge along the world tree to the worlds of the Aesir and the Elves. For the ancient Celts, it was the Other World where Elves and Fairies lived. For the Greeks, it was Mount Olympus where the gods lived. For Jews and Christians, it is Heaven. God and his angels. Sometimes I wonder…but would you call me crazy for that question?
4 – Hello, my name is Jack. I remember the first day I met Ken. He was in uniform of course, just like me, buzz cut hair and all of that. The proper American military look. But the background on his pad had Buckaroo Banno hanging ten on some massive wave. Took me a while to figure out it was him in the flesh, in my squadron. Never woulda guessed. The hippy surfer dude act was…actually a real good act. Sure fooled me. But there was way more to him than met the eye. Thank God that.
5 – Hello, my name is Betty. One of the basic tenants of stellar geography is that friction causes heat. In the same way that one rubs their hands together by pulling one’s muscles to warm them when cold, the tectonic plates of a planet or moon rubbing together due to the pull of gravity can cause them to warm in deep space. This heat can melt rock into magma, or ice into water, even if only underground. And it’s a fact of biological science, that where there is water, there is life.
6 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Peloran Treatments worked real well, and they didn’t charge a red cent. The pharmaceutical companies howled of course. They demanded the FDA ban the drugs and they bowed to the people who owned them. But the FDA didn’t have nearly as much power as it did in previous centuries, and most States ignored the ban. Millions of us took the treatments, hundreds of millions, and then billions as everyone saw the health and vigor of the lucky ones around them.
7 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Norse told tales of the rainbow bridge. Many religions have rivers we take into the otherworlds. And now we have hyperspace. You know many describe it as a river of gravity? It flows from star to star, binding the galaxy together in currents of gravity we see as every color of the…rainbow. The poets describe it in so many colorful ways, using words and emotions to embellish it. But does it really need that embellishment? Or is it amazing enough on its own?
8 – Hello, my name is Betty. The vast majority of moons are small, with masses far less than Earth, or even Mars. Because of this, most moons have minimal atmospheres compared to Earth, too thin to breath. Some larger moons have barely enough air for Martians or Himalayans to breath, but most require respirators, if not full environment suits to survive on. In fact, most lunar colonies use physical or gravitic domes to maintain breathable environments in and around the settlements.
9 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Peloran Treatments did have a side effect. It was one that no testing in any reasonable number could have found. It happened one in a million times. That’s one ten thousandth of a percent. It’s not even a blip. That girl in New Orleans, Clarice Beaumont, was our first clue. First she aged seven years in the span of two, and then she stopped altogether. It’s been almost two centuries now, and she hasn’t Aged another day.
10 – Hello, my name is Charles. There are so many otherworlds in our religions. There are so many other races. Elves. Dwarves. Leprechauns. Djinn. Angels, Demons, and Gods. Almost every religion in the history of our world preaches that there are other worlds and other races. The questions I ask myself are whether these were just stories they made up, as many would have us believe, or did they actually, truly know something that we forgot? And how do we find out?
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. When the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 left Earth, there were ten of us Cowboys. Twenty years later, ten Cowboys came back to Earth. We’d lost some along the way, and some new ones came along. New and old alike, we all looked forward to an end to the fighting. Unfortunately while Wars may end, an end to conflict is a lot harder to find. And it is a rare aggressor that is honorable enough to declare war.
12 – Hello, my name is Betty. The moons of Alpha Centauri are some of the oldest colonies of mankind. Every major nation has placed their stamp on those moons, and most minor ones. Most of the colonies are domed of course. That goes with the territory after all. But there are some really big domes scattered around, and some towers that humble any Earth-built tower ever imagined. I’m talking kilometers in height. They are a sight to behold.
13 – Hello, my name is Jack. After Clarice and the others like her, the Peloran spread out the treatments. The health treatments infants, boosted every couple years. The final anti-aging treatments came later. Of course the two are more closely related than most think. Still, they held off the final treatments until all of us had a chance to grow up. For men they picked twenty-five years, twenty-three for women. Mixing the energy of youth with the maturity of age. Or so goes the theory.
14 – Hello, my name is Charles. My family is a powerful one, with a lineage stretching back thousands of years if our histories are accurate. We were not always called Hurst of course. Power and money has passed on through, and into, the family via daughters and wives more than once after all, and not every culture maintains family names as we do now. Also it was sometimes advantageous to change the family name. One must always be willing to set aside a name if it becomes too radioactive.
15 – Hello, my name is Betty. The original lunar colonies of Alpha Centauri were low to effectively zero gravity affairs. Some moons were little more than an anchor for an attached colony. Others dug massive underground warrens and filled them with air. Low gravity was the common factor. The acceptance of Peloran gravtech changed everything. Inexpensive gravtiles have made it easy to bring standard gravity to most extreme environments, dramatically increasing our colonization options.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. The interesting thing about the treatments is that nobody reacts in exactly the same way to them. Most people start aging at an effective rate of 1 year for every 10. Some age slower, some faster. The really old can seem to get a lot younger too. They’re still old, but they’re healthy old. And that can make all the difference in the worlds. Most of us should be able to live for centuries. And the effect of that on society is crazy amazing.
17 – Hello, my name is Charles. The oldest surviving home that my family maintains is in Europe. France to be precise. Our home was lost during the 100 Years War. We had other priorities at the time. We acquired it again in later centuries, in exchange for forgiving war loans to the French government. We found that appropriate. The castle has a beautiful view of the coasts of Normandy. You see it is the blood of Norman kings, amongst others, that flows through our veins.
18 - A Parting of Minds
19 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Alpha Centauri B system contains three terrestrial worlds, two of them easily habitable, two gas giants, an asteroid belt, and nine major moons. The asteroid belt, the remains of what might have been a planet were it not for the tidal forces of Cen A, grants easy access to raw materials. This, amongst many other factors, makes the star system the greatest center of production and mining short of the Terran system herself.
20 – Hello, my name is Jack. When you’re healthy, you can live a long time. Before the Peloran Treatments, a healthy person could live over a century pretty easy. Mostly, the treatments just improve that, boosting our bodies’ ability to heal themselves. To help them properly replace dying cells with healthy new ones. That’s the secret to remaining young far beyond the mere three or four decades of five centuries ago. Health.
21 – Hello, my name is Charles. The modern Normans first formed as a people when Norse mercenaries colonized Normandy. They promised to protect the coasts from other Norse raiders, and intermarried with the local French. As time went by, the Normans married into even the royal families of both England and France. This is one branch of my family. The blood of the Norse, the French, and even the English flows through us there. It is perhaps no surprise that we can have lively debates.
22 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Russians and Chinese colonized the planets and moons of Alpha Centauri B. Between the two polities, they basically control the entire system. Only a handful of colonies are from nations not affiliated with those two powerhouses, and none of them have official ties with the Western Alliance. Unofficial ties are a completely different matter of course. Even Russian and Chinese colonists love Alliance trade goods after all, especially the proscribed stuff.
23 – Hello, my name is Jack. Even the Peloran Treatments don’t guarantee good health, don’t make us immune to abuse. Not exercising, or eating poisonous junk will still mess you up. The treatments simply give us a leg up on anyone who doesn’t take them. The Chinese and the Russians outlawed the “dangerous alien treatments” for instance. Of course they developed their own versions of the treatments. Not as effective, but a quantum leap compared to “natural” humans.
24 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Norman branch of my family helped to conquer England long ago, after a disagreement over who would be the new king. There were very few of us of course, and many locals. Like the original Norsemen in Normandy, we intermarried with the Anglo-Saxons, and from that patronage absorbed the stories of King Arthur and Merlin into our blood. That they were famous for defending England against invaders was not lost on us.
25 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. The betrayals we suffered after The War caught us by surprise. Even most of those in Charles’ family did not see them coming. Perhaps we should have. We knew they did not like us. Even those nominally on Charles’ side were uncomfortable with the…side effects of the Peloran Treatments. They simply did not like the idea of anybody being better than they were, at anything. But we should have foreseen what the real hardliners would do. Somehow.
26 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Chinese colonized Xin Shi in 2115. It is the closest planet to Alpha Centauri B, tide-locked with one side perpetually facing her sun. That side is far too hot for us to live normally, and even Africans prefer to avoid it. The far (dark) side of the planet is too cold for anyone but a Tibetan. Most people live within one hundred kilometers of the edge of the world, the ring where sunlight and starlight meet. They call it the Great Wall of Xin Shi.
27 – Hello, my name is Jack. There’s an old saying, from back before Contact. You can be full of wisdom or full of youth. You can’t have both. That’s still true of the lower classes in places like China and India, where population and cultural pressures keep the treatments more rare. But in most of the Western Alliance, and even in Russian and non-aligned territories, most people can learn wisdom through experience, and still be healthy enough to take advantage of it. That’s changed everything.
28 – Hello, my name is Charles. Most of the Normans ruled England from Normandy. My little branch of the family actually did move to England, but many of us stayed. We continued to speak our own little version of French, and to rule the island as we thought best. The irony is that the greatest of Norman kings, forever known as Richard the Lionheart, never did learn to speak English. You see, England was a secondary holding at the time, truly only important in that it gave us a claim to kingship.
29 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Great Wall of Xin Shi isn’t actually a wall of course. It does ring the planet, where day and night meet, but it isn’t a single building by any means. It’s broken up by lakes and small oceans, and even on land it is more a collection of buildings crammed together. Those buildings on the line itself are the largest and richest of course, towering over their lesser cousins. The buildings on the edge of the habitable zone are the slums of Xin Shi.
30 – Hello, my name is Jack. A lot of people didn’t trust the Peloran when they showed up. Still don’t actually. Many groups tried to reverse engineer their treatments in fact. The results weren’t amazing. The Russian and Chinese Treatments for example have some kinda crazy side effects. Very rare of course or they wouldn’t still use them. But dwarfism, giantism, and a lot of other ’isms like that show up with them. One side effect they don’t get is the Ageless. We’ve got no clue why.
31 – Hello, my name is Charles. England became more important to my family during the Hundred Years War. As feudal holders to the French throne, the Normans owed fealty to the French king. But we held the kingship of England in our own right, and we held closer claim to the throne than the new French king. We claimed it, the king disputed the claim, and a war broke out that would last a hundred years. That war changed us all forever.