The Institutes of Fate

 

Continued from The Age of Spies

The Zirconium and Niobium Eras (40 and 41) formed the golden age of the Teleological Guilds, institutions the like of which cannot be found in Earth history.

Their origin lies back in the Cobalt Era, but not much is known of them before era 40.  They seem to have begun more as mysterious secret societies than as public bodies.  Perhaps the mystery and the secrecy were not deliberate so much as forced upon them by their special concerns, which were way over most people's heads.

The Guilds were partly research institutions, partly exploration societies, partly - for a time - political clubs or even nations.  Their justification, their stated purpose, was to discover the trends of history, the direction in which Uranian Man was heading.  They were trying to steer the species through the rocks and rapids that might lie in wait in the eras ahead.  But the method by which the Guilds undertook their research made it hard to enforce scientific rigour on the published results.

The Zirconium Era lasted 3,155,594 Uranian days, or 128.6 Uranian years - equivalent to 10,799 Earth years.  The Guilds built fine conical buildings for their headquarters, almost rivalling the cities for splendour.  (Coincidentally or not, the famous mobile city Yr, City of Mists, was built and launched in this era.)  One of the guilds allowed power to go to its collective head and unleashed a war for the sake of promulgating its own point of view of history.  Its defeat led to the eomasp which ushered in the calmer Niobium Era.

This, era 41, lasted 6,662,243 Uranian days, or 271.4 Uranian years - equivalent to 22,800 Earth years.  During this time the guilds were generally calmer and more responsible than they had been during the Zirconium.  It was a great age for elegance in architecture, city planning and the design of airships.  Accumulated wealth from a long period of peace led to some exploration using the rare, expensive techniques of matter-transmission, made possible by equipment left over from the Phosphorus Era and rarely used since then.

The Teleological Guilds, for all their wealth and social importance, contributed remarkably little to the sum of human knowledge.  Their chosen field of investigation was almost impossible to master, and gradually they lost their original purpose and became societies to promote exploration and more mundane knowledge.  Finally, during the last few hundred thousand days of era 41, they dwindled into being mere departments of city government.

>> The Ghepions

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