The Burden of the Guardians
The legend surrounding the "Guardians of Identity" and their efforts to preserve the various Rul cultures for the time after the The Final War.
Some time during the The Final War, an underground organization was founded on Ranul - Rokilumutu, the "Guardians of Identity". People from opposite sides of the conflict began working together to preserve the knowledge of the Rul civilization before it might go extinct. Ostracized as doomsayers and prosecuted as traitors, they had to remain secret while gathering whatever information they could and compiling the most comprehensive database that ever existed on Ranul. Multiple copies of this database were created to be stored away all over Ranul. Many of those were destroyed before reaching the intended location, and many Guardians lost their lives in the endeavor - caught in the fighting, executed by the government, or driven to suicide by the sheer inevitability of the impending destruction. And even those devices that arrived at their destination had to remain hidden, as their very existence was considered an outrageous insult to either faction's war efforts.
In the year 85 VZR, an archaeological expedition led by Ka-Nelim discovered a heavily damaged hard disc drive which was the first tangible proof that the Rokilumutu project had actually existed. Over the course of 36 years, three more devices were salvaged from their hiding places, but only one of them turned out to be functional. The data on the functional device shed further light on that project. It could be confirmed that there had been multiple people from different nations involved, and that both Rilanga and Ran-E-Zu had collaborated on compiling the information. There are also mentions of people being incarcerated or executed as traitors on the slightest grounds, implying that the Guardians really had to operate in secret, but there are no details on what actually happened to any of them. In fact, very little is known about the Guardians themselves because they prioritized information of global interest over personal accounts. The information on the Rokilumutu device contains data on the cultural identity of the different Rul nations from the first civilization. Specifically, there are historical records, a number of literary works and a catalogue of artworks. The information also includes a database of plants and animals, many of which became extinct when most of the life on Ranul was wiped out.
The first rumors began to spread 1 year after the beginning of the Final War. Following the Peace Conference, a few survivors from different regions began claiming that they had been members of the Rokilumutu network. However, what they revealed about the devices and their locations was fragmented and contradictory. Travel on the surface had become extremely dangerous, so it was near-impossible to investigate the matter, although occasional attempts were made. For many generations, the accounts of the alleged Guardians were passed on in writing or orally, becoming even more obfuscated along the way. What made matters worse was that a number of frauds started selling made-up information to those who would try their luck at finding one of the Guardian devices. This lead many to doubt the very existence of the project.
Variations & Mutation
Accounts differ on what information was stored on the devices. The oldest variants correctly describe it as a record of cultural identity, whereas the concept of identity was interpreted differently later on. Some versions of the legend claim it was a list of all the people who fell in the war, with personal accounts showing them as individuals rather than statistics. Other versions speak of the identity of scientists who went undercover to avoid the abuse of their research by the government. There are also a few variants in which the Guardians preserved the identity of people who hoarded national treasures. Another subject of variation were the lives and deeds of the Guardians themselves. Many retellings flesh out their heroic quest for gathering knowledge in one place. There are tales of Guardians sneaking through the shadows with an encyclopedia under their coat, or fighting their way through several police squads in order to deliver valuable information to a secret underground base. Some accounts claim that the project started with the forbidden love between a Rilanga and a Ran-E-Zu, while others say it was founded by renegade government agents appalled by their leaders' genocidal plans.
During the Final War, opinions were divided on the subject. Media loyal to the governments did their best to subdue these rumours, and official statements on the matter painted them in a very negative light. The very idea that the respective side might lose the war and need to be preserved was seen as subversive, and the thought that the enemy culture was considered equally worthy of preservation made it all the more insulting. On the other hand, many of those who opposed the war admired the Guardians for their efforts despite hoping that they would not be necessary in the end. After the end of the Final War, many people latched on to the legend as it gave them hope that not everything was lost. Still, there were also those who found it hard to believe that people from either side would have worked with the enemy before the near-extinction shook people up. That anyone could have done so under their government's noses seemed even less probable. When the actual devices were finally recovered, and especially when one of them turned out to be readable, the majority of the Rilsu turned to celebrating the Guardians as heroes. Nowadays the story is considered a prime example of people overcoming their differences for the greater good.
Date of Setting
4 - 1 NZR