A Tale of Two Cities

Once upon a time there were two cities, which sat on either side of a wide river plain, with a yellow river running like a cross of gold between them. The city on the south side of the river was the first to develop, in the time when we first landed on this planet. That city has been around for hundreds of years – it is the original settlement, the one where we first made land fall in this strange new place. We grwmps were in charge of the settlement. We had to be, because we got here first, so we had to survive. Luckily, there were grwmps who knew how everything worked. We knew how to mend a broken fusion reactor and we quickly learned how to grow crops in the harsh astral winds that scoured the planet. We brought with us Earth knowledge. We knew about the old ways, the ways that we had left behind when we set off from Earth but that we needed to pass into the future of this colony. Most every Grwmp thought that this was an excellent plan.

The hard bit was when we came across the yununs, a fluffy round species that was native to this planet. (No one had told us that we would encounter fluffy round aliens here.) The yununs weren’t aggressive (mostly) but they were certainly hard work. We decided to corral the yununs into temporary schools, so that we could keep a lid on them and maybe pass on the Earth ways to them if we were lucky. We were pretty sure that we knew what the yununs needed. but unfortunately some of the yununs didn’t take to things quite as we had hoped. Being in charge of the yununs involved a lot of skill and determination (and a fair few painful bites). Most grwmps didn’t want this job. They wanted to be out setting up the institutions for the new planet, making the laws or working the fields. The yununs were liable to make a mess and throw green slime around the place (this stuff grew everywhere on the new planet but at least it was nutritious).

One day not so long ago, some of the older yununs were standing by the yellow river. They were forbidden to dip even in a toe into it, on pain of they didn’t even want to know what. They had been told that the water would burn their feet off if they so much as went near. Since they were native to this planet and yunun history told them that this wasn’t true, I’d guess they found their grwmp teachers very confusing. They probably didn’t get why we wouldn’t use the planet’s technology, it had been around for what felt like millenia, but some grwmps didn’t take kindly to being told. Anyway, this group of yununs had a feeling that if someone wanted to swim one way or the other over the yellow cross shaped river, or perhaps even fly across to go and make a town of their own, like this one, but not quite, then they could. Of course it was important for them to remember that the river was fast flowing and dangerous for swimmers, and that vicious gusts of winds sent up whirlwinds of sand that would down a space hopper, but surely it wasn’t impossible?

As time passed, the yununs wondered how much right anyone (aka ‘the grwmps’) should have to say about how things should be for them. Especially since it wasn’t their planet. They started to think about whether they couldn’t just be treated almost exactly like us grwmps (apart from the passing on of Earth knowledge bit, they found that bit very useful). They spoke to their teachers, and some of the grwmp teachers agreed with them. Not all by any means but definitely a lot. And then they just kind of got together and agreed that there should be equity in how the grwmps treated yununs. It wasn’t their fault after all that they were smaller and fluffier. (Plus the yununs had found a document called the “UNCRC” on an ancient grwmp device, and some grwmps looked very shifty every time they mentioned it.) This story doesn’t have a dramatic ending. There is no happily ever after. Just a slow drip, drip, drip like the green slime on which we all feed. If you look across the river, you can see the new city, although it’s only half built and it’s shaky in parts. But the yunyuns and grwmps who went aren’t planning to come back, and as time passes more of us think that we might follow. Especially since they put up their new flag, which reminds us of something from Earth. Although we can’t yet quite place exactly what.



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