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Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant

Deep Time

There are plenty of “million year old” ancient civilizations in fiction, and mostly they just feel “very old”. Like the pyramids are very old, but more so.

To be able to understand what thirty million years does to a people, you first need to be able to think at those scales, so here's a brief primer on it.

Let's experience time at one year per second. At these speeds, a human lifetime is a minute and a half. Those pyramids were initially raised an hour and a half ago. Humanity domesticated wolves into dogs four hours ago. Individual human nations come and go like clouds of gnats.

At this scale, forests dance. They undulate and march across the landscape like a swirling beast. Above, the stars twinkle. Not from atmospheric disturbance, but from the near constant supernovae across the galaxy, which average one a minute. Star forming regions crackle like fireworks. The stars themselves slowly wander across the sky, but that occurs on the order of days.

Ah, days. At this scale, there is indeed a day/night cycle. Or, as we call it, the “glacial” and “interglacial” periods. Every night, the temperature drops a several degrees Celcius. During the long nights, the oceans retreat from the coasts, and the forests flee towards the equator.

Here's our history in a nutshell:

  • Extinction of the (non-avian) dinosaurs: two years ago.
  • Birth of the dinosaurs: seven and a half years ago.
  • Land colonized by plants and bugs: thirteen years ago.
  • First multicellular life: a very healthy human lifetime ago.
  • Earth formed: a century and a half ago.
  • Universe began: four and a half centuries ago.

One full year considered thus is thirty million years -- how long the Faderan have lived. Civilizations simply don't exist at this scale. And so the Faderan aren't exactly a civilization.

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