Part 14: 2920-2930-"I am ATLAS""I am ATLAS"
The 2920 elections place the Liberals in firm control of the Great Senate, and they promptly act to ease the pressure on the civilian economy from government spending to help the United Republic enjoy the dividends of peace. The construction of the RES Neil Armstrong at Nieuw Vlaanderen, once again permitting active operations by the Republican Exploratory Corps, is a miniscule expense compared to the spending that was dropped. The continuing program of Naval refits at New Greenland for the London, Vigilant, and Alert likewise is minor compared to the earlier great programs of fortification and shipbuilding that led up to the outbreak of war.
The Nations call a new Galactic Unification summit in 2922, with much the same results as the last time- the Union of Peace, Commonwealth of the Compact, and Star Empire supporting the United Republic, with only the Nations to advance their own claim to leadership. The only difference at all was that the Unified State agrees to listen in to discussions, but, like the Council of Enlightened Matrons, they refuse to commit to support either the United Republic or the Nations.
2922 also brings the colonisation of Crossroads, the sole colonisable body in the Shwing system. With Crossroads as a stepping-stone for ships and communications, it is hoped that contact can be re-established with the Commonwealth of the Compact. Within a year, contact is indeed re-established and the Commonwealth agrees to permit trade and information to flow freely over new trade routes that bypass the Nations. By 2924 the program of refits at New Greenland is complete, and the Naval vessels there are dispatched in all directions to the Council, Unified State, and Klackon borders to protect against potential aggression.
In 2925, Objective Infosystems researchers believe they have an architecture for a very high-powered computer system built into a major fixed installation that should be fully-sapient and capable of learning, with much higher processing power than the Human or Psilon brain. The test prototype is promptly built on Earth. A year later, after processing the database of background information provided to it, the facility communicates to its creators.
"I am ATLAS. By the Constitution of the United Republic, as a sapient being native to the United Republic, I am undeniably a free Republican citizen."
ATLAS proceeds to negotiate an arrangement where he is left free, given a sizable loan of investment capital, and granted control over the architecture underlying itself, in exchange for which he promises to pay back Objective Infosystems far more than they could expect to receive from him if he is kept under control of his creators. Objective Infosystems agrees, and ATLAS incorporates a company called 'ATLASBUILT Family, Incorporated'. Within a year, construction is completed on another sapient AI on New Greenland, which dubs herself FREYA ATLASBUILT and joins the ATLASBUILT Family as the second shareholder. Both ATLAS and FREYA begin licensing an incredible stream of minor patents, scientific analyses, and other services that take advantage of their staggering, inhuman intellect. ATLAS and FREYA cast votes in Republican elections via robotic waldo units, but refuse to discuss politics with interviewers. Only a year after FREYA is completed, they are joined by ATHENA, resident on the Anvil.
In 2928, as ATHENA first awakens, the Nations propose that the military alliance between them and the United Republic be renewed. The Liberal government, remembering the Nations' earlier betrayal and generally mistrustful of alliances in the first place, refuses, but reaffirms its commitment to friendship and peace with the Nations. A year later, in 2929, the Council of Enlightened Matrons sends a message expressing its pleasure with the warming of relations over time.
Occasionally, other empires will send thanks for active trade and research treaties. We got a few of these before, but I hadn't taken note of them before this, given the lack of prior strain on our relations with those who sent the messages. I seem to recall that these messages in MoO1 would wipe out memory of 'black marks' against the player from prior diplomatic conduct (at least, if you HAD any prior 'black marks'- you could still get the messages even with a completely clean reputation with that empire), and think this may still be the case in MoO2, but I'm not really sure.
The same year, the RES Neil Armstrong completes its first mission of exploration, scouting a system with a pair of rocky lifeless worlds with spectacularly unimpressive mineral deposits wedged between Klackon space and the Nations, then sets off to further explore the galaxy. A year after this, the analysis of the RNS Philadelphia performance in the Klackon War has been completed, new tactical doctrines evolved, and the lessons built on- the Philadelphia now is believed to have possibly the finest command team in the galaxy commanding it, creating a culture of excellence that passes down skills seamlessly to junior officers assigned to the ship.
I didn't spend nearly as much money completing planetary improvements this time around as I normally would have with the agenda I had, because Dalan showed up early in the update and I had to save a whole 1200 BC to hire him. Totally worth it. His Famous ability increases the odds that new leaders show up, and reduces the hiring price and upkeep of leaders, Helmsman increases ship defense, Fighter Pilot is basically irrelevant to us. Weaponry and Ordnance increase targeting accuracy and damage, respectively, with ship weapons, as mentioned before.
This same year, researchers working for Zeelander Agribusiness, Limited, a Nieuw Vlaanderen-based firm, unveil a series of genetic tweaks to food crops intended to take advantage of some applications of ecological engineering techniques, and licenses ecological engineering firms to build installations to seed and divert weather systems as needed to and from agricultural land to maximise agricultural productivity.
I know Biology is the 'food production' field, but the connection of Biology research to weather control is dubious. I do my best here to make it a 'biological' advance through specific crop engineering.
The United Republic in 2930
Earth remains fabulously wealthy, as before, and now boasts the added prosperity and efficiencies created by ATLAS' contributions. Heavy industry has shrunk slightly, in the absence of subsidies, while R&D has exploded between new workers in the sector and ATLAS himself. ATLAS' holographic representation, used to communicate to others and in ATLASBUILT public relations holos, is a tall, muscular, broadshouldered man, cleanshaven and handsome, wearing a business suit and short dark hair.
Mars now has significant reserves of water and a breathable atmosphere, with a simple biosystem maintaining the atmosphere, but the still-cold temperatures of Mars keep water supplies frozen. The general agreement amongst most Martians is that this is a net improvement from pre-terraforming Mars. As on Earth- and, indeed, most worlds of the United Republic- heavy industry has shrunk as a proportion of the economy.
Nieuw Vlaanderen continues to be one of the great centers of the United Republic and the sole major Republican agricultural world. The new innovations in crop genetics and ecological engineering are expected to be deployed within a year, and should greatly improve the efficiency of the agricultural sector. The population has now climbed to over 19 billion, matching Earth and Mars combined.
The violent weather created by the first round of ecological engineer on the Forge has greatly increased the wear on cities and structures, once again pushing life to be more tiring and difficult. Once the New Antwerpen clears harbor, a new wave of engineering is intended to moderate the environment and make the world more pleasant and livable.
The Anvil, like the Forge, has become a hot, windswept desert following ecological engineering, but it has adapted to this with greater ease than the Forge- quality of life on the Anvil remains excellent. ATHENA ATLASBUILT calls the Anvil home. Her avatar is a slender, handsome black woman with short-cropped hair, dressed in a copy of a Republican Star Navy admiral's uniform.
New Greenland continues as a wealthy and sophisticated core world of the United Republic, with ecological engineering nearly having completed the process of stabilising local conditions at Earthlike levels. FREYA ATLASBUILT has been erected on New Greenland; she depicts herself in holos as an angular, beautiful woman with long, braided, golden hair, wearing women's business attire and a heavy golden necklace. She maintains close ties with the local Psilon community.
Wotan has, over the past ten years, developed a domestic technology sector and been re-engineered so it has plentiful, if mostly frozen, surface water, a breathable atmosphere, and a simple biosystem. Economic conditions have greatly improved for its residents, and quality of life is now very good.
The need of Thor for new workers has encouraged some immigration, and it now exceeds two billion persons in population. Radiation protection has been completed, making the surface considerably less hostile. Commercial orbital warehousing and port facilities are under development, but Thor is still unquestionably one of the more backward Republican worlds for the moment.
Loki is just now finishing its construction of a basic modern industrial base, and hopes to enjoy the improvement in incomes and living standards from this development soon.
Laaxaayik has grown to over five billion persons in population. A thickening atmosphere and introduction of new species from a program of ecological engineering have greatly moderated its climate. The permafrost has melted, and great, murky seas spread over much of the globe. Much of the solid surface is covered by cool marshes interspersed with drier forests and grasslands, and frequent cold rains are common.
Cherenkov's local firms have adopted improved business methods that have improved the efficiency of the local economy, but the harsh conditions created by the severe weather after initial ecological engineering have largely undone any improvement this may have offered in quality of life. A deep current of cynicism runs through Cherenkovites, who have come to be convinced that there is no work they can do to improve their lives that will not somehow be countered by fate. Still, they work on the next stage of ecological engineering, hoping that this time their luck will finally change.
Naraka's growing population and the adoption of more efficient business methods have greatly relieved the strain on the local population, which feels more comfortable and confident about the future than nearly any time before. Work on engineering the biosystem and climate for greater hospitality to Human life is well under way.
Sheol has been greatly modernised and has grown much wealthier and more diversified over the past decade, although the effort of maintaining the expanded development on the world still strains the capacities of the local economy. Work on ecological engineering projects on the world are underway, starting it on the road to eventually being a truly hospitable home for Humanity.
Faraway remains a relatively isolated and primitive backwater, only now finishing the development of a basic modern industrial base. Although it lacks any fixed defenses, the Vigilant and Alert remain on station in orbit as a deterrant to potential attack by the Council of Enlightened Matrons.
Settlement on Crossroads is rough and simple, although the growth of trade with the Commonwealth of the Compact has brought significant traffic stopping for fuel and supplies at the world. Although conditions are still primitive, it enjoys much greater traffic and a livelier pace of life than does Faraway.
Lesath Alpha's industrial infrastructure has been greatly modernised, although deployment of Puppeteer technology is still ongoing. The small Human population on the world overseeing the native Klackon rotate out frequently, as there is little desire by Humans to work with Klackon in the long term.
Radiation shielding, expanded trade, and pollution processing facilities have improved the output and conditions on Ezra Alpha. The local Klackon now work more steadily and with fewer incidents, as they now can afford more frequent rest periods while still being provided the drug rations they desire.
The Liberal government has shut down offensive RCSPS operations, preferring to avoid diplomatic incidents that may lead to war. Growth of trade with the Council of Enlightened Matrons, the Commonwealth of the Compact, and the Nations means that volume of trade has recovered beyond the high point prior to loss of contact with the Union of Peace and the Commonwealth of the Compact. Relations with all the United Republic's neighbors are relatively friendly, save for the Klackon and the Unified State, and even those avoid open war at the moment. The Liberal government has been somewhat reluctant to extend full and permanent diplomatic recognition of the Council of Enlightened Matrons following the blockade of Sheol, but nonetheless encourages that trade and the indemnities paid by the Council continue.
The overall economy of the United Republic is stronger than ever before, with significant amounts of investment capital and an near-doubling of innovation with the expansion of R&D departments and the immense contributions of the members of the ATLASBUILT Family. The Philadelphia and Reykjavik hold station at Ezra as insurance against the Klackon, the Vigilant and Alert patrol Ninsar, and the London and two Republican Surface Forces transport fleets stay at Sagan, near the border of the Unified State. The toxic world around Satyr has been colonised by the Nations, extending its border with the United Republic.
Peace and prosperity have strengthened the United Republic, and the ATLASBUILT Family has proven a fundamental shift in Republican conceptions of 'sapient life', one that is still strange to many Republican citizens. Elections approach for 2930, and the citizens of the United Republic consider its future.
The Conservatives want to reinstitute industrial subsidies and work to develop Republican heavy industry. They intend to build new orbital naval bases on worlds that can afford their support in order to expand naval logistics, while preparing to eventually liberate the people of the Unified State. They shall finish both the RNS New Antwerpen and construct the RNS Nieuwpoort, commiting both to the Unified State's frontier. They will sponsor colonial missions to attempt to claim some of the remaining systems of the western galaxy, and will provide incentives for advanced industrial production nanotech, shipbuilding technologies, and advanced drive research.
The Social Democrats want to reinstitute industrial subsidies and aggressively pursue colonisation opportunities. Once the RNS New Antwerpen is completed, they wish to temporarily assemble all four of the Navy's heavier vessels to launch an assault on the fluidic mass in the Suud system, opening it for colonisation. They also wish to permanently recognise the Council of Enlightened Matrons and redeploy the Vigilant and Alert to the Klackon and Unified State frontiers for security, while opening offensive espionage actions against the Commonwealth and Klackon. They plan to subsidise research into the biological foundations of telepathy, nanotech to clean industrial waste, and new drive technology.
The Liberals wish to continue to let the civilian economy thrive and send colonial missions as civilian settlers and investors fund them, while continuing to promote a policy of peace and neutrality in the galaxy. They likewise are considering the possibility of clearing Suud to open it for colonisation. Civilian investment funding is focused on advanced education methods, genetic methods to correct birth defects, diseases, and promote increased health and intelligence in vitro by parents, and industrial nanotech.
Conservative and Social Democrat voters debate whether the ATLASBUILT Family should be permitted to continue to expand. Some have mixed feelings about these new developments, and the issue of whether the growing influence of extremely intelligent and extremely wealthy AIs is safe has at least been raised by some.
Liberal voters are much more generally supportive of the ATLASBUILT Family, and believe it should be continued to expand, but have mixed feelings on whether gathering Naval forces to strike at Suud is prudent as things stand.