Keywords: Family and caste based on blood vs. family and caste based on skills, high technology, war
In-game language: Danish – Læs dansk udgave
Abaris is a troubled solar system. While the populations of other solar systems and planets may only suffer from one problem, Abaris has them all. War, disease, poverty, collapsing ecosystems, military dictatorships, oppression, omnipresent secret police. What caused all this misfortune?
One could say that it is due to the implacable war between the peoples of the two inhabited planets Abar and Aris. But why have the two planets been at war with each other for the last fifty years? Take uniform off an Abarian soldier and an Arisian, and no one will be able to tell the difference between the two. Let them talk, and the same dialect of intergalactic will come out of their mouths. But ask them who their family is, and you will find the monumental difference between Abar and Aris.
On Abar, children are tested at the age of one to map their innate personality, potential and intelligence, after which they are placed in the family unit, where they will be able to fulfil their potential. Based on these tests, and more tests during childhood, their education and career is also defined by the ingenious software in the giant computers, buried deep in the planet.
An Abarian family is bound together by the love that arises out of their common harmony and their common interests, while their biological ancestry is only a coincidence, a combination of the genes of two humans they do not necessarily have anything in common with. The family shares everything, everything is jointly owned, and everything is shared. Sisters and brothers are generally lovers and are regarded as spouses, since they are not biologically related, thereby removing one of the most common human taboos.
Marriages as such does not exist, they could be defined as the adult part of a family and thus consists not of a woman and a man, but can consist of all possible combinations of people and genders. Physical fidelity and sex is not that important, but usually does take place within the family. The most loving thing they call their beloved is brother or sister. The only taboo is sex between generations.
The whole of society is organized through every person being placed on the position where they are best suited. There are several families whose members are heads and administrators of the state apparatus, while other families are involved in universities, etc. Companies and businesses are often owned and controlled by one or more families. Everyone is happy, for they are placed in the right position – with the right people. Or are they?
On Aris, all people are also placed in a position, but based on very different criteria. Arisians believe that everything is determined by blood. You are born into your family and caste, and you belong to that forever, since of course no one can change who they are. You know quite clearly what is expected of you and taught from your childhood in this role. Detailed pedigrees, confirmed by genetic testing, and information about everyone’s caste and pedigree is stored in gigantic computers, dug deep into the planet.
The eldest son or daughter inherits the family estate, while younger children either are dependent on their heads of family’s goodwill or must make their own way in the world. In some castes, one’s position in the row of siblings even determines the profession within the caste, one must follow. In the noble caste, the eldest son/daughter inherits the family’s title, while the next child goes into the military, the third child goes into administration and the fourth child becomes a priest. In the lower castes, the children just follow in their parents’ footsteps.
The families arrange their children’s marriages with appropriate partners from the same caste and profession. To avoid inbreeding, strict incest rules are practiced, where marriage with relatives is banned completely, even with second degree relatives (your cousin’s cousin). The family consists of a father and mother and their children, linked by family ties to grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins. For each marriage, it must be determined exactly which family the couple will belong to, as the sexes are equal. Arisians take family ties very seriously and would not be able to understand the concept of nepotism, as it is natural to help ones family rather than others.
One works for the family’s honour and one’s own children’s future, and society is characterized by strong competition between families. Families in the technological caste develop new technology at a high pace and have no trouble finding workers from the manual labour caste. The army is full of warrior daughters and sons, who only dream of obtaining a noble title. Society is controlled by the richest aristocratic families who take turns to hold the crown.
The many similar and yet so different customs seen when looking at Abar and Aris, have not happened by random coincidence. Abar was colonized by the maladjusted individuals from Aris, who felt that their talents and abilities were wasted in Aris’ rigid caste system. Brought up as they were in a caste system, their thought ran within this framework and they developed another caste system – but this one based only on talents and abilities, rather than inheritance. They built the giant computers and fed them with data from Aris; tests given to children at different times compared to how they had done in their given career and additional data from other planets, where the choice was free. During the first generations, the system was far from flawless, but gradually, as more and more data were collected, the process was refined.
The Abarian society has existed for over 600 years, and by now it has become clear that their system works somewhat better than the Arisian, and Abar was consequently outcompeting Aris before the war. Some historians believe that this is the real reason for the war.
Albak Skiop, an Abarian man from a prestigious merchant family, met and married an incredibly wealthy Arisian, Lera Skasenak, the first-born daughter to a family of miners from the industrial caste. They met on a interplanetary trade fair and immediately fell madly in love. For them it was a great love story, but to the public it was an even bigger scandal – both on Abar and Aris.
When they had a daughter, the child was on the father’s initiative given the standard Abarian one-year test. The test showed to his great joy that the child fitted into one of the best research families Kareol. Albak and Lera took the child to its “family” on a longer visit. Albaks intention was at first to surrender the child as per custom, but under the influence of his wife’s Arisian morals, he himself started to have doubts and found it hard to part with his little Allera. When it became clear to Allera’s mother what was going on, she insisted furiously that they immediately go home to Aris – with their daughter.
The Kareol family was shocked and thought that their daughter had been stolen from them. They immediately set about trying to get the child returned to them.
While these demands were still being treated in court, the controversial couple died in an accident, during an expedition where the presence of axondite in Eklas belt was discovered. The Eklas belt, midway between Abar and Aris, was now Skasenak family property. The small Allera was now the owner of large properties, including the entire asteroid belt filled with axondite, a fantastic mineral that according to the Abarian researchers from the Kareol family could solve all energy problems. Allera’s Arisian guardians soon realized what was at stake, and then a legal battle started the likes of which have rarely been seen.
The Kareol family felt that they had been deprived of a daughter, whose abilities would now never reach their full potential, that their daughter was subject to spiritual cruelty, as she had to grow up with people who only were her biological relatives, never to know the joy and the harmony of a true family.
In addition, they were of course interested in the amazing wealth that was her property, and which they were the best to understand and use. Abarian law recognizes the inheritance laws of other planets, in the few cases in dispute, and therefore expected their inheritance laws to be respected as well.
Allera’s guardians, her aunts and uncles refused blankly to surrender her to people who they regarded as complete strangers, with no right to the child and the property, as Arisian law does not recognize the Abarian kind of relatedness. As the mineral’s importance became known to the public, the governments of the two planets involved themselves in the dispute. Abarian judges ruled that the asteroids belonged to the Kareol family – according to Arisian law – while Arisian judges ruled that the Kareol family had no legal claim.
The major differences between the two planets’ way of living, which until then had tolerated in a large part by ignoring each other, were now very visible. Both planets were interested in the same asteroid belt and felt that the axondite mineral could solve many problems for them. The contempt they felt for each other’s societal structure and moral standards, the disagreement about something as basic as what constitutes a family, added fuel to the fire, and soon a war started; the war of Allera and the Eklas belt.
Allera herself suffered several kidnap attempts by Abarian units attempting to transfer her to her family, and she had to live her short life under strict security measures. She tried several times to initiate peace negotiations and propose compromises, but these were rejected by both parties. Allera committed suicide at age 20, because she could not bear to see the violently escalating war, she had been the cause of.
The war is destroying both civilizations. The ecosystems are collapsing; biological weapons have caused terrible epidemics. In particular, the viral disease blue tongue is feared. The first sign of infection is a blue tongue and mouth and bad taste in the mouth, the victim starts sneezing 8-10 hours after these signs, and the day after that the shaking starts. These shakes evolve into terrible convulsions, suffocation and death. The basis of life is disappearing, plants and wildlife is dying, and the peoples of Abar and Aris have now lived on the brink of existence for several years.
Militant families on both sides have taken power in their hands to conduct the war most effectively and made short work of pacifists and dissidents, and a widespread secret police (on both sides) ensures that no one tries to betray their planet by seeking peace .
The people of both Abar and Aris closely resemble the human genetic normal standard. However, on Aris several families have used genetic engineering to better adapt themselves to their caste’s work; e.g. military families whose members have a stronger muscular development or renovation families who have a poorer sense of smell as an advantage. Most families consider this though as “doping” the genetic legacy that what they already have should be enough.
Both Abar and Aris have complete equality between the genders, and gender is considered to be a relatively unimportant factor in the assessment of a human being.
Both on Abar and Aris, braids are worn with one’s family colourss as a part of the attire. Traditionally, these braids are worn on Aris as a braided sash around the waist. This is a symbolic of how the family is the living expression of one’s genetic inheritance that one carries and can pass on (in one’s gonads). On Abar, on the other hand a braid is bound around the head to symbolize that the true connectedness lies in the mind. The clothes have besides these braided, coloured ribbons no special characteristics.
The family name is the most important, and outside the family a person will often only be called by his or her last name. Abarisian names often contain k, l, a, e, as evidenced by the names Allera, Albak, Lera, Skasenak and Kareol.
Arisians are very conservative and polite in their behavior, while Abarians are much more relaxed and individualistic. Arisians have a very strong code of honour.
Arisian refugees are generally indifferent as to where they flee to, just as long as there is no war. However, they do not care much for the Culture and want to settle in solar systems where the Culture’s influence is not too great.
Abarian refugees attempt to gather in larger groups, as their social system only works if there are plenty of other families to exchange children with. There are two planets, Karakas and Lelak where there are large gatherings of Abarians and thus a chance to rebuild. These planets are deep in the Culture’s sphere of influence to secure against sabotage attempts by Arisians. Most Abarian refugees try to bring along a rudimentary version of the placement software, but so far a rudimentary version is everything the two colonies have. The government is trying to smuggle full versions of the program out to Karakas and Lelak, while the Arisian government is doing its best to stop these attempts.
Arisians are as mentioned earlier conservative and believe that their social organization is the only correct one. They are fairly intolerant and unsympathetic towards other ways to organize one’s society. They have greater understanding of the very family-based cultures (such as Sekolts) while they are outraged by the liquid family concept of the Culture, don’t understand the Urbanites individuality and anonymity and don’t acknowledge androids as sentient beings. They hate all Abarians fanatically and blame them for the war. The only good Abarian is a dead Abarian!
Abarians are used to being regarded with some suspicion by other nations, but are themselves relatively tolerant. They are first and foremost a little too pleased with themselves and think that other nations will soon see the light and adapt their way of life, so they just need to set a good example for the rest. They will therefore behave politely and interested towards other groups, but greatly prefer to inform everybody about their amazing family and community form. Abarians feel that Arisians have never respected them and now are out to destroy them. And they have learned that attack is better than defence when it comes to Arisians!
As Abarians and Arisians originally belonged to the same culture, their food cultures are not much different. They often eat a special kind of bread sticks, olives, cheeses, dried fruits and often drink fruit juice or wine.
Abarians and Arisians using the common currency, intergalactic credits, colloquially called credits, which is legal in several galaxies. The refugees have paid about 20,000 for their journey on the smuggler’s ship. Refugees from Abar and Aris are usually not rich.
Sefa Kelale (M), from a family of farmers on Abar, was very happy, but now the whole family is dead, fled with his sister / wife Akesa whom he loves above all else, 22 years old
Akesa Kelale (F), Abarian, lost her entire family, rebellious and adventurous, dreams of spaceships, loves her husband / brother, but perhaps not as much as he loves her, 20 years old.
Kall Eskan (M), Abarian officer in the Intelligence Services, smuggles very important computer applications, has amnesia, disguised as ordinary deserter from Abar, 25 years old
Erela Keser (F), super intelligent programmer, very self-centered, fled to offer her programming expertise to the Abaranian colonies, 28 years old
Akalani of the Pakena clan (M), the warrior caste, Arisian officer, now deserter, his entire family has been killed, and he is tired of war. Traveling with his younger cousin, Kele (18 years). 25 years.
Kele of Pakena clan (F), the warrior caste, Arisian, still an academy student. Excitable, headstrong, really did not want to flee, Traveling with his older cousin (25 years). 18 years.
Akkal former member of Rekaso clan (M), the noble caste. Pacifist, fascinated by Abar, injured officer, but a spy for the illegal peace movement. Revealed, rescued by the family’s servants, now outcast, 22 years old.