Saro-Mbuna - Roduimo Affair

Saro-Mbuna Affair
Image from Steve Bowers
Fredre Iskare, the world where the Saro-Mbuna - Roduimo Affair took place

Although in the field there have been a few incidents between competing expeditions, academically there is much exchange between the Institutes in the Inner Sphere.

One incident happened soon after the rise of the Hamilton Institute of Exopalaeontology. An arrogant young post-doc, Yosh Saro-Mbuna, frustrated with the seeming impossibility of career advancement at the very conservative and to him, anti-meritocratic Eden Institute's dept. of Xenopaleology (they just didn't recognize his genius), did the unthinkable and joined the HIE (a sign of the recruitment trend to come). Saro-Mbuna, a brash and rather uncivil scientist, deeply offended his mentor (and tenured-for-life superior in rank) Kenth Roduimo. This resentment was unfortunate as both learned of an alien city on Fredre Iskare through a shared contact, the artifact-pirate Loretta Akim. (In those days such 'contacts' were more common, for beneath the conservative veneer the Eden Institutes were in a period of heavy infighting and corruption, and the new HIE was not any more ethical in early dealings as its young members tried to score a coup that would bring them to leadership before the HIE became as rigid and lethargic as the EIXp).

Saro-Mbuna and Roduimo both managed to secure grants, charter starships and arrive at Fredre Iskare's star system within a month of each other (there being only one wormhole at the time going anywhere near there). The two rivals hardly spoke to each other, each setting up on opposite sides of the ice/mud continent surrounding the alien outpost complex. In the rush to excavate and try to be the first to find an inscribed "rosetta stone" or repairable technology, scientific procedures were barely observed (and mainly thought of when each man tried to document the other's incompetence). Roduimo ignored the plight of a HIE team trapped in a cave-in; Saro-Mbuna stole emergency supplies mistakenly airdropped near his camp by a EIXp shuttle. Soon each team started manufacturing fake alien relics and burying them where the rival team would find them.

There were few ways this incident could end well; it was probably fortunate that the alien site turned out to have been looted not only by Akim (on the surface only) but also by some other species that had dug into the base 3 million years ago, so that little valuable was lost. Saro-Mbuna was eventually tied up and forced to leave by several of the HIE grad students who had tired of his act, while Roduimo was badly injured and several of his team killed when trying to desperately find other sites on the world during an ammonia- ice storm (although Roduimo blamed his poorly-chosen shuttle pilot, not his own vengeful mindset, for the crash).

After the two expeditions returned, the Council of the HIE revoked Saro-Mbuna's funding and proposed to some of the younger of their EIXp colleagues that a 'scientific ethics' agreement be formalized and publicized. It took some time before enough of these scientists had worked their way up to leadership on Eden, but eventually the rules, adopted in the year 5827, were instrumental in reducing the degree of corruption in the scientific organizations and minimizing the degree of competition, although never eliminating it outright.

Roduimo is famous for having his brain preserved so that his neural density could be proven superior to Saro-Mbuna's. Unfortunately Saro-Mbuna's third expedition into the territory of the Ejkahh'illlauah cloudgulpers disappeared without a trace, so the comparison never took place, and Roduimo's brain was later auctioned off by Vija Akim, granddaughter of the famous pirate and head of the Inner Sphere Alien Artifact Auction House (ISAAAH).

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Development Notes
Text by Aaron Hamilton
Initially published on 06 August 2000.