A hint of a smile grew on the corner of Genrou’s lips, and interest smoldered quietly in his eyes. “A life festival…?”
“Yes. Don’t be fooled by the misleading name. The festival is cheerful by choice, not circumstance – built to help keep a positive outlook on a grim necessity.” Renz drew on the wall with his finger as he spoke. The motions left no mark on the metal paneling, but Genrou could tell from watching how intricate the designs were. “Everyone knows homgen are pacifists, but few truly appreciate how important pacifism is to us. See, when the ‘event’ happened thousands of years ago – when human technology was wiped out overnight, most colonies immediately began wondering how they could rebuild.”
Genrou carefully sat down, shifting his sword so its sheathe did not scrape on the ground as he did so. He could tell Renz was speaking of something truly core to his people’s hearts, and it wasn’t polite to stand when someone bared their spirit.
“…but the homgen asked why rebuild. If a culture built over millennia could crumble to savagery over hours, why build at all? Many died from the hostile environment or starvation, but twice as many died from despair.” Renz wiped his hand over his imaginary drawing. “To survive in a land that hated us so much required willpower – willpower a person simply cannot muster without three things: purpose, respite, and beauty. Beauty we found in art, respite we found in alcohol, and purpose we found in continuing the peaceful ways of humanity – the ways the other colonies abandoned to survive. Following the path of pacifism was a luxury afforded to humans through technology – but the homgen’s ancestors had no such luxury. Still, they followed the way of peace all the same. To keep their culture alive.” Renz’s hand drifted down and away from the wall he’d been drawing on. “But reality did not bend to ideals. There wasn’t enough food, water, and shelter to go around. Not everyone got to live. We needed a way to determine who survived, and we could not turn to violence.”
Genrou ran his thumb along the side of his sword’s hilt. “…So you turned to art.”
“How’d you guess?” A regretful grin tugged at Renz’s mouth. “Yes, it was art. It was declared that to earn life, one must create life. For some, this was literal. Those who provided food and water, got first pick of all the necessities for survival. For others, though, it was more… spiritual. They held a great art contest, with resources granted to the winners.” He clenched his fist. “…And the losers? Some stayed, hoping to tough it out until there was enough to share. Some left for nearby cities, hoping for better luck elsewhere. Others wandered out into the deserts, to create Blood Art – paintings and music scores drawn with blood onto rocks and sand. For just as you dream of dying in a glorious blaze of destruction, the ancient homgen dreamed of dying in a glorious act of creation.”
A note from the
Unlike with most other species, the human colony that gave birth to the homgen wasn’t really a colony.
It was a bunch of drama geeks and philosophy majors on a half terraformed planet in temporary housing. Part of a three part project to preserve human civilization in case of an immeasurable disaster.
The first being a vault containing the entirety of human culture and history, broken down into the most influential works of art and historical events. The second being a vault filled with seeds and DNA samples, preserving all the different species that once called Earth home. The third was an archive, containing the sum total of all humanity’s scientific knowledge.
(Obviously the homgen homeworld was the site of the first part.)
At the time of the “event,” all three parts were underway, but none of them were complete. The first part had only recorded up to the mid 21st century, and the second had only stored information regarding life that was either useful to humanity or vital to maintaining a stable ecosystem (and several samples of DNA were damaged during the “event,” the most notable of which was the loss of the majority of the section on primates). The third part was the most advanced, having stored everything required for a college level education – with biology, mathematics, physics, and medicine being stored up to the level required for a PhD.