Chapter Three: Warts

<<<In the trenches>>>

It is now 2476, two years after the Mirondian mother ship goes into orbit near Neptune. There have been lots of changes happening all around the Solar System. One of the surprising ones is happening at a tropical beach on Earth.

It is picturesque beach next to a nice resort. There are gentle waves and sand on one side, and lush jungle vegetation on the other. It looks pristine looking one way, but in the other direction is a high class resort with cabanas and so on. There are people enjoying the beach in their beach outfits. So far, so usual.

Then it gets unusual. Our Mirondians from the meeting room, Miro-Sam, Miro-Alex and Miro-Bob, come out of the hotel to enjoy the beach. But... they are dressed in environment suits -- the weather at this tropic beach is fine for humans, but not Mirondians. In their suits they frolic and beachcomb much as humans do. They admire the beach, the sky, the water... but what they admire most is the jungle. That dense, lush, living greenery fascinates them.

Some of the humans stare at them when the Mirondians have their backs turned. Some stare in amazement, some stare in anger that they are there.


Beach time is over. It is back to trading. Anna, Paula and Mickey are back with Miro-Sam, Miro-Alex and Miro-Bob in the Show Room Asteroid meeting room.

Things have changed over the last two years. Anna, Paula and Mickey are sporting new suits, and these new suits have a lot of Mirondian technology incorporated into their fashionability. This is just one example of Mirondian inspiration spreading through human culture.

The Mirondians have changed too. They are sporting crazy-looking tans and Hawaiian-style bold pattern beach shirts that they picked up while visiting the beach. These are fashion changes inspired by their visiting Earth as tourists.

They start with small talk.

Miro-Sam says, "Those beaches you have... the ones next to oceans... in the hot areas? Those are just incredible! I can see why you humans line up to get to them.

"And you... swim in that water too? Amazing."

Paula says, "I’m happy to hear you have been enjoying the sights. Yes, we humans love those beaches. And we travel to experience many other environments as well."

Mickey says, "And thanks to the improved propulsion systems you have shown us how to build, we are now developing tourist industries all over the solar system. For us that’s amazing."

Anna brings the small talk to a close, "Shall we get down to business?"

Everyone sits at the table. Graphs spring up on the displays around them. They show dozens of business progress reports.

Anna says, "As you can see from the progress reports around us. The progress has been astounding, but there are two items we need to talk about:

"First, there has been a lot of social unrest among some human societies. The progress has been... uneven.

"Second, we want more. We have been, and remain, most impressed with how fast you Mirondians can get things built. We want you to teach us. We want not just the blueprints for these astounding inventions, we want to learn how you do things. We want to master these 'blip' construction techniques."

Miro-Alex says, "'Blip?' This is not coming up in my dictionary."

Anna says, "It is a new slang word. It means Mirondian construction techniques. It originated because humans have watched you make things. You start and... 'blip'... it is finished! ...Blip construction."

Miro-Alex says, "Ah... I like it! You humans are surely inventive with your languages."

Anna says, "So... what would you like from us in return?"

Miro-Bob looks at the others, then confides, "This relation has gone well from our point of view too, Ms. Hatchet, and we have started to dream big as you have.

"There is a lot of resource in this solar system, and there are a lot of you humans inhabiting it. This means we can dream big. And for space traders such as ourselves, this means dreaming of establishing a... mother world... a place that can spawn dozens to hundreds of starships. Each can then go off in its own direction to explore its own venue of distant stars. This solar system, with all its resources and humans, has the potential to become that."

The humans look at each other.

Anna says, "Exploring the stars has long been an aspiration of many humans."

Miro-Bob says, "It has? I find that surprising."

Paula says, "Ever since we have been human we have looked up at the stars at night and wondered what was out there?"

Miro-Alex says, "Ah... that’s right! You do have those clear night skies... so unusual for a jungle planet."

Miro-Sam says, "It seems we have some more aspirations in common. We may be able to move this Mirondian-human relation yet another surprising step."

Anna says, "We may... but before that can happen we need to solve the problems of deep human unrest we are having today."

Miro-Sam says, "Ah yes. We have been noticing that as well. In truth, we have found the extent and deepness of it surprising. It doesn’t match our projections well. But then again, our projections did not take into account your enthusiasm for interstellar exploring, either. How can we help?"

Paula says, "We’re not sure. For us, this unrest is expected. It happens each time there is deep economic and technical change on earth... and your coming and trading with us has certainly provided that!"

Miro-Alex says, "What will come of it?"

Paula says, "New ways of human thinking, and new ways for humans to do things. The problem is that we humans don’t know ahead of time which ways will be selected. Exploring and selecting is what the unrest is all about. But this exploring and selecting scares many people. This is why we have the unrest."

Miro-Alex thinks a bit, then says, "It is... a time of chaos then?"

Paula says, "Very much so."

Miro-Alex says, "Then... I think we can do a lot. From our own social studies we know that chaos is a time when small pushes in the right places can make big differences in final outcomes. Between us, let us decide what outcomes we want for this chaos and investigate what tools we have for pushing the results in that direction." he looks around at the other Mirondians, "Let us confer among ourselves... and let us confer more with you."


<<<The Big Picture>>>

It took only two years for some of the warts to show up from this trading bonanza. The root of the problem was the divide between those who could quickly adapt to these new opportunities and those who got scared or uprooted by the disruptive changes.

And there were the ongoing mysteries of how the Mirondians did what they did. For example, one was the mystery of the size of the Mirondinan crew. This mystery came to light as the human-Mirondian projects grew in size and extent.

The Mirondians were happy to outsource. There were things they wanted built that took a lot of labor and resource. A lot of what they outsourced was sold to the Solar System community -- they provided expertise, the Solar System provided labor and raw materials.

The magnitude of the outsourcing grew steadily over the first three years that the Mirondian were in the Solar System. The number of projects grew and grew, and at first this steady growth was a mystery to the Earth negotiators. They would conclude a large joint construction or engineering venture, and the Mirondians always seemed to have manpower, well... alien power, actually, available. The deal would be concluded, and shortly thereafter a shuttle ship would leave from the mother ship with ten, a hundred, once five hundred, Mirondian Surface Engineers (as the Mirondians called them, MSE's as Solar System people called them.) ready to add their expertise to the project.

Where were all these alien people coming from? The scout ships' one pass by the Mirondian ship way back when it first arrived gave Solar System people a good estimate on the ship's size. It was really big, the size of a small asteriod, but even that big, there would be a limit on crew size. After a couple of years of watching this steady stream of aliens come from the ship, it looked as if Mirondians were packed on board at roughly commercial airplane density. This made no sense for a ship that would spend years and years floating between star systems.

Another oddity was that these MSE's seem to come from different cultures -- the newer MSE's didn't know the same things that their bosses knew. The Solar System people found this out as they worked with them on their various projects. A few were real sharp and knew what was happening from day one of a project. Most acted for all the world like they were immigrants who had just sailed from some foreign land, and were getting off the boat for the first time -- they had no knowledge of what had been happening since the Mirondians had come to the Solar System.

When the Solar System people finally asked the Mirondians about this seemingly inexhaustible personnel supply, the Mirondians answered, "The MSE's? Why they're colonists, of course. Civilized beings are one of the most versatile cargoes that we carry, and that makes them valuable. When we depart, some of your people will be invited to become MSE's, as well. I assure you, it's a most rewarding experience."

"And just how do the MSE's travel?" asked the Earth representative.

"Oh, that's one of our secrets -- something I can't tell you about at this time."

Yes, the Mirondians kept secrets.