One resource, in particular, I found invaluable. It was called the “Galactic Information Exchange.” It was a fount of knowledge from Galactics, for Galactics. It could, of course, not entirely be trusted; but, when wrong, it could be, often quickly, corrected.
But we humans, in a way, were ahead of the Galactics. For we already had an Earthly example of such a resource, and a snappy name for it: Wikipedia.
The Galactic Information Exchange was generally considered to be reliable, except on contentious issues. Certainly, it was more reliable than the Earthly Wikipedia, because it used the input of experts effectively, and had strong mechanisms in place to prevent bias by authors or editors.
And I learned much from it. I understood, for example, the layout of a ship like 18162-V. Cone-shaped and three thousand or so kilometres long, it was divided into sixty-four sections or segments. Each (after the first few, which contained the drive mechanism) provided a different combination of gravity and atmosphere for its passengers. Yet I could find nothing at all about the physics of the drive which powered the ship. (This was behind a paywall, I found out later.)
And, of the species who piloted the ship, the Naudar’I, I could find little, except that they are one of the very few Galactic species who are incorporeal; that is, made entirely of mind rather than matter.
But I found out much about the Seraphim. That they are, as Michael had claimed, the most sought-after pilots in the Galaxy for journeys within solar systems. That they live in pairs, but have no gender. That they do not need sleep, and do not die, except by violence or accident. That they are, per head, the 43rd richest species in the Galactic Association.
I also remembered that Michael had named our project consultant as Bart Vorsprong of the Tefla. I looked up the Tefla, and found them to be a large constricting snake species, very skilled in science and in law, but who also delight in jokes and puns. And are 12th in the Galaxy’s rich-list – well above the Seraphim.
And there was an article on Bart Vorsprong, too. It was not overly complimentary – perhaps it had been written or edited by a rival, testing the limits of the medium. Yet, it admitted, he was co-author of the definitive work on the many different ways by which Galactic species reproduce. And he was now a professor in the Department for Species Emergence, in the Company for Galactic Advancement.
It looked as if we humans had on our side someone who could, perhaps, run rings round anyone wanting to deny us Junior Galactic status.
I also looked for information on the Galactic Association. There wasn’t much, but I did find the Statement of Principles of the Association. I noticed a few interesting clauses there:
- (Article 2.) The Galaxy is an honest place. Knowing use of lies, deceit or double standards by Galactics will lead to graduated ostracism of the individuals, and where necessary in extreme cases, expulsion of the species.
- (Article 3.) The Galaxy is a peaceful place. Violent aggression is not acceptable among Galactic species, or against species who are candidates for admission to the Galactic Association.
- (Article 5.) The Galaxy is a free place. Any Galactic individual may do anything they wish, as long as they accept responsibility for the consequences, and are not aggressive, malicious, dishonest or unreasonable.
- (Article 7.) The Galaxy is a productive place. No Galactic may put any obstacle in the way of others’ wealth creation, unless they or others are provably harmed by its effects.
- (Article 11.) The Galaxy is a place of individuality. Each Galactic individual is to be respected as, and judged according to their actions as, an individual.
- (Article 13.) The Galaxy is a just place. Individuals deserve to be treated, in the round and over the long term, as they treat others.
- (Article 17.) The Galaxy is a place of moral equality. No Galactic may claim any right to do anything which they deny others the right to do in similar situations.
When I spoke to Michael about these things, he was astonished by how much I had learned. “Where did you find all this?” he asked.
“In the Pedia,” I replied.
With furrowed brow, Michael asked, “Media?”
I had just changed the Galaxy – in a small way. Many of those travelling in ship 18162-V were soon convinced, and it spread through the Galaxy as the travellers dispersed. The Galactic Information Exchange was no longer always called by that name, but frequently by a much catchier one: the Pedia.
I did that!