Cultures of the Okulso Valley – Part One

Today, I will take a closer look at the various cultures in and around the Okulso Valley.

We will follow a wide crescent starting in the far southeast with the Tsortatrul, continuing south to Shteko, then west through Eyoth and the Okulso Valley proper to Guyochi. For each of these cultures I will try to answer in a bit more detail questions about their attitudes towards child-bearing and -rearing, education of youths, social mobility and other questions that might be of more significance to the specific cultures. How monolithic is the culture politically and socially? What are their thoughts on mortality, change and the meaning of existence? How do they organize trade? All of these could be of importance.

Another set of questions that could be separate or related to the, “how,” and, “what,” questions is the, “why,” question. I’ve been reading, “Characters and Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card. One thing I’ve already picked up from this book is the importance of the, “why,” question in shaping a character whether that character is a person, a society or an entire planet. The, “what,” questions, “what happened?,” “what did he do?,” are important, they lay the groundwork, the information. “Just the facts ma’am.” But the, “why,” questions can tell you a lot more. Knowing why someone did something doesn’t just add to the texture of that action it also gives you insight into how that character will act when faced with other challenges. This is as true of peoples as it is of people. Half of the fun of being an amateur historian(or a professional one, but I can’t speak to that) is trying to glean the, “whys,” of events. This is crucial if you want to build an alternate history. You have to know(or try to guess) why Kennedy and Kruschev acted as they did in the Cuban Missile Crisis if you want to think of how they would have acted if, say, a Cuban missile boat had sunk an American destroyer.

Another thing to consider with any conculture is migration patterns. Where did this culture begin and where did they go on the way to where they are now? A culture is shaped not only by the challenges it faces, but by the challenges its forebears faced historically.

Well enough of explaining the process. On with the story.

We’ll start, here, with a tiny bit of history. Tens of millions of years ago the Precursors established a, so far as we can tell, benign interstellar polity. According to the pNu, who are the only remaining, sane, race from that time(the Ob were also survivors from that age, but their commentary on the matter is not widely regarded as reliable as they are, as a species, stark raving loony, with only the most tenuous grasp on present reality), this Precursor polity extended across the entire galaxy at its greatest extent. The pNu will not discuss what happened to the Precursors, it is only clear that they ceased to exist several million years ago. The timeline is unclear due to the somewhat timebending nature of their wormhole-based method of faster than light travel. The Ob, for their part, claim that the Precursors were destroyed fighting the demon that drove the Ob mad. This demon, according to the Ob was engaged in a rebellion against the Creator of the universe. Very little of what the Ob say makes much sense. In any case the Precursors disappeared leaving a trail of enigmatic and valuable artifacts in their stead.

About one hundred thousand years ago, a little after the pNu regained interstellar flight, the Waqu became fascinated by Precursor artifacts in their home system. With some help from the pNu, they began to explore the local region of the galaxy in search of further Precursor artifacts. Although the pNu were much older than the Waqu, and more technologically advanced, the Waqu quickly outstripped the unaggressive and seriously unimaginative pNu. In only a few thousand years, the Waqu had established colonies across known space, and were even beginning to re-open parts of the old Precursor wormhole network. After less than 5,000 years, the Waqu had colonized and terraformed worlds across an area of the galaxy nearly a 800 light years across. A great accomplishment for a race without benefit of warp drive. They had a powerful, unified interstellar empire that looked likely, soon, to rival the Precursors themselves. Then, suddenly, in less than a century, they were almost completely snuffed from the universe. The only survivors who were ever found were the Skavun of Shtakamashkan, although among their uplifted client races a few survivors yet exist such as the Vugoa of Asdakseghzan and some paleolithic transplanted humans on Sydow’s World. Once again, the pNu refuse to discuss what happened, although they have clearly avoided the space within about eighty light years of Shtakamashkan.

Shtakamashkan appears to have gotten off lightly. Nearly all adult Waqu on the mainland were killed, but the islands and most of the young survived nearly unscathed. Most of the few adult survivors there were on the mainland seemed to have boarded boats headed for those islands. The last vestiges of the original Waqu social infrastructure collapsed under the weight of all of those refugees. This is where our story begins.

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3 Responses to Cultures of the Okulso Valley – Part One

  1. Peter Saint-Clair says:

    I’m just curious how the Waqu traveled almost 5 quadrillion miles in the span of 5 millennia with out going faster than light. What’s the calculations that you used? I’m just curious – not trying to say you are wrong…lol

  2. Astrographer says:

    800 light years across in 5,000 years. Assuming that’s diameter, that makes the travel distance out from the center 400 light years. Average rate of expansion over that time would be about 0.08 c or about 53 million miles per hour. I’m also going to assume that their actual travel speed would be in the pretty high relativistic range, so travel approximates light speed closely enough over that time that we can call it 1 c.

    I forgot to mention that somewhere in the early first millennium of the Waqu expansion they discovered how to access old Precursor wormholes and not too long after, how to manufacture and move their own wormholes.

    Those wormholes allowed the Waqu the possibility of a somewhat unified interstellar culture without true FTL. It also allowed for some really weird time travel issues. I’ll have to get into that much later. Two sources I’m using for inspiration are A Million Open Doors by John Barnes and Timemaster by Robert Forward.

    A rate of settlement of ~ 1/12th of the travel speed seems awfully fast. I think there are two explanations or excuses I can come up with for that. The first is that settlements will grow pretty quickly once they are placed compared to the travel times between stars. My other excuse… er, explanation… is that the Waqu were much more extensive than intensive in their settlement. They weren’t looking to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the universe, but to spread out and discover as many Precursor artifacts as they bloody well could in a short span of time. Not so much archaeologists carefully brushing their way through the universe than pillagers with backhoes and avarice.

    Hopefully this wasn’t too confusing. I’ve been really good at weird, rambling stuff lately.

  3. Pingback: Painful Backpedalling and Backfill | Astrographer

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