This post continues the story from The Custodians and August (Part 1).
The Minimalists fell into themselves, debating how to best apply what they saw as the winning formula of Earth to humanity’s extended habitat. There were multiple trains of thought. Some wanted to lobby Earth Central to sanction colonies that did not follow set regulations. Some were resigned to allow the new colonies to find their own way to sustainability. Others found this unacceptable; humans would destroy too much in the process of re-learning the lessons of earth; was it not their duty to prevent such destruction? Perhaps the new colonies should be brought under the direct control of Earth Central, by force if necessary.
The debate spread and contracted, swayed back and forth, until one new method emerged as a positive way forward. The method was that of the Custodian movement. The Custodians proposed that they could not force their will upon the new colonies; the fate of the environment in these new Domains was now to be determined by their citizens. But other worlds, those not yet colonized could be saved. That is, if the Custodians could get to them first. Once claimed by the Custodians through the Earth Domains charter code, each new world would be the Custodians’ to keep and protect
Some minimalists abhorred this idea. To lay claim to new worlds, to spread across space and acquire as much as possible seemed the opposite of a sustainable path for humanity. In fact, the aggressive expansionism appeared more like greed than conservation. But the Custodians argued that competing with the myriad unruly colonial efforts would be the only way to shut them out of vulnerable worlds. The sheer untold number of pristine habitats that would inevitably fall within the ever-expanding Domains demanded it; while not all worlds could be claimed by the Custodians, at least some could be, and those worlds would be safe.
The Custodian movement sprang forward as the prime vector from the Minimalist’s deliberations. Gaining traction, the movement collected followers from many walks of life: idealists, adventurers, wealthy investors, downtrodden lower classes, disciplined professionals, skilled laborers. Businesses were chartered, employees hired, ships purchased. If the Custodians had any hope of making a legitimate claim to new colonies, they would have to be the first to discover them as well as make a case for their viability.
The Custodians’ greatest competitors would be large commercial initiatives. These organizations could prove their claim to new territory would yield greater prosperity for the Earth Domains. Well-funded and well-connected the Commercials would have an advantage against the inherently moderate Custodians when competing for a charter. The path of least-resistance would be to find a colony distant enough that no commercial enterprise would bother making a serious claim. To this end the Custodians assembled an impressive fleet of high-end ships that could reach far and travel fast. Millions of custodians flooded the colonist rolls, happily enlisting to become the next wave of settlers to the worlds that would be saved.
Two worlds, Tertia and Barrinth were the first. Tertia, a double planet system rich in minerals sported no life. Tertia was created as a beachhead of sorts, allowing the Custodians to create an economic engine that would power their expansion. Barrinth, a cold and dusky world on the edge of its sun’s habitable zone supported some indigenous life and the Custodians were happy to protect it. But neither of these two worlds was particularly desirable, and the movement needed to show that they were actually protecting something that would otherwise be destroyed. A poster child was needed, a true Earth-like marble that could. Long range vessels build in Tertia were send far and wide in search of this prize. In ever expanding spheres, the Custodians searched, until one day, they found it: August.
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