02 - Scrao

As far back as their history goes humans have been surviving on Scrao, a harsh, unforgiving planet full of rough craters and dangerous creatures. With landscapes ranging from scorching deserts of molten glass and lava in the summer to frozen wastelands of slippery stone in the winter, Scraoites had no strength to spare for political matters; surviving the world was everything. Of course, with no resources to spare on inefficient government, the only civilizations that survived worked together unquestioningly, with civil service being only a day job. Society functioned more like a colony of ants than people.

They had no moon, but often on a solstice a great circle appeared in the sky. On winter solstices, it would be deep blue-green and block out the sun, chilling the frozen wastelands even more and killing thousands with the extreme cold. On the summer solstices it would brighten the night with its bright and lush hues, preheating the morning and leading to the most lethally hot day of the year. Each year it would appear at a different time of day, if it appeared at all, but the cycle repeated every few years and there were reports of people on other sides of the planet seeing it at different times, so they cautiously concluded that they lived on a sphere and began saving resources even more carefully so they could explore beyond the molten deserts and better handle the lava flows. The features of the other planet, however, were unexplainable; each solstice there would be faint orange-ish glows on it and each time the glows would be slightly larger and more numerous, with no discernible reason for the glowing.

The mystery was eventually solved when the Scraoites figured out how to make tunnels deep within their planet to moderate temperature and side passages to divert the lava so they could finally establish permanent bases in the moderate latitudes and shape equipment for making lenses. The spots were fires from another civilization! Thus, before inventing democracy, writing, or even currency, Scrao had started its space program before it even began recording history. The base quickly grew into a self-sufficient city and division of labor started to take place, leading to full-time civil servants, but society was still so obsessed with loyalty and efficiency that none of them could be considered politicians. Writing developed soon and from the city new colonies were sent south through the vast caverns carved by lava and tectonic forces. By the time they finally amassed sufficient unburnt fuel on their constantly burning planet that they could launch a rocket into space, they had advanced technology so much that they already had extremely accurate computer simulations of the flight and fully automated controls, with remotely-controlled manual overrides. In a strange twist, however, when Scraoites finally stood on Thera for the first time, in the 445th year of their recorded history, no one had yet gone into space....

Next: First Contact