Part 4: 2121-2130: The Stepdaughters of GaiaThe Stepdaughters of Gaia
By 2123, heavy investment into network and informational infrastructure in the Morgan settlement led to the settlement having the infrastructure in place to support a comprehensive local network, with nearly all firms and habitations wired in to this network. Although still only a pale shadow of Earth's Internet, the improvement in communications and easy propagation of ideas proved a major boon to scientists and researchers in the settlement. The construction of cable to link this settlement with the Torrson settlement further south with greater bandwidth continued, slowly helping reduce the subjective distance between the Pod 5 settlements.
In 2126, Doctor Skye, representing the Pod 1 colonists, attempted to demand technical information to make their data on long-range networking protocols more than academic. Morgan, acting as de facto leader of the Pod 5 colonists, refused this without an equitable exchange of information, but Doctor Skye was unwilling to share the psychological data that had been accumulated by certain researchers in the Pod 1 colony.
More concerning than Doctor Skye's attempts to get something for nothing, however, was the slowly accumulating evidence of a new social movement growing amongst the Pod 1 colonists. The so-called 'Stepdaughters of Gaia' were a quasi-religious movement, venerating the planet in explicitly spiritual terms, and with their own slowly developing canon of prayers and rituals. Although they remained, at the moment, a minority of the Pod 1 colony, perhaps a fifth of the population in total, they counted Doctor Skye herself as their leader and as the person 'most in tune with Planet'. The Pod 1 Governing Council remained split between secularists and Gaians, with many of Skye's inner circle of biologists, geologists, and civic leaders refusing to accept this new religion. Only one Governing Council member, one Doctor Hanson, resigned her post in response to the growth of this social movement. Following her resignation, she emigrated from the Pod 1 colony, making her way across Pod 5 territory to the Tellus settlement.
Despite the refusal of the Pod 1 colony to share their accumulated psychological data, their work was swiftly replicated on the Pod 5 side of the border, with mathematical models that could predict the distribution of behavior of populations in response to specific events based on prior data on the population. Although the degrees of precision involved were not great, nonetheless the mathematical models were robust and accurate enough to prove an invaluable aid to market research by firms that made use of them.
In 2129, citizens of the Tellus colony reported sightings of an assembled mass of 'mindworms' in the xenofungal forest southwest of the settlement, which soon enough swarmed out of the fungus and over the land towards the Tellus settlement. Due to their early warning, the Tellus security force was ready for this, and the first field test of an x-ray emitter apparatus proposed by the Morgan Industries xenobiological research staff was made against the worms. The coordination of the swarm seemed to falter under the x-rays, and although the Tellus security forces were still assaulted by horrific visions and suffered a number of losses to friendly fire or to mindworm infestation, the unit largely kept in good order. The results of this battle seemed to prove that there was some internal communication within a mindworm swarm mediated by x-rays, and the use of x-ray emitters against worm swarms was rapidly confirmed as standard doctrine amongst Pod 5 security forces preparing for the next assault.
With the worm swarm burnt away by incendiaries, a remarkable find was made amidst the ashes. Small nuggets of thorium doped with precise traces of other elements survived where the fleshier portions of the worms were burnt away, which, across the whole swarm, added up to a remarkable amount of wealth for the reactors of the colony.
Mindworm boils that are destroyed when another unit attacks them, rather than being destroyed in their own attack, leave behind 'planetpearls', concentrations of rare elements that give some bonus energy credits to their destroyers.
The Pod 5 Colony as of 2130
The Pod 5 colony's reserves of industrial materials have been heavily depleted by the breakneck pace of work to complete the Morgan settlement's network infrastructure and the terraformers operating out of the Tellus settlement. The Rat Patrol, exploring north, has found evidence of another Unity cargo pod, while Talon Security Solutions, exploring east, has found a valuable lode of metals in some rocky bluffs on the eastern coast of the Freshwater Sea. Although nominally within Pod 1 territory, a new settlement near the bluffs would almost certainly have a more solid and legitimate claim on the rich mining in the bluffs, which could be a crucial asset to a new settlement. Such a settlement would also be near a region of exceptionally good fishing in the already nutrient-rich Freshwater Sea, which it might be able to exploit for a rich source of food.
The beginnings of a freight railroad running alongside a highway for vehicle and foot traffic runs for a distance between the Morgan and Torrson settlements, terminating at one end at a small ferry facility to shift cargo and travellers onto the river, and trailing off at the other end in front of the rocky outcroppings south of the Morgan settlement. In the Freshwater Sea, a Unity cargo pod sends forth its beacon, although the resources to recover it are not yet available.
Borders can and will get redrawn based on new settlements being established. The mineral resources are obviously at the far outer edge of Gaian influence, and not near a settlement of their own to make a clear claim. The green vegetation icon in the Freshwater Sea represents rich nutrient resources, so we have now seen all three unique resource icons. Units following either roads or rivers need only spend a third of a movement point to move along the road or river.
The Morgan settlement is a busy center of activity, processing the wealth of both nearby monolith complexes and supporting the best network infrastructure in the colony. Work has almost been completed by several small firms on a series of reprocessing units to break down organic waste for supplementary biofuels, fresh water, fertilizers, and industrial chemicals. With survival on Chiron so precarious and resources so short, even human and animal waste and rotting plant material represent a small but valuable source of resources.
The Torrson settlement has a small 'suburb' of thorium sifters, hydroelectric generators, and farmland just downstream, helping supplement the resources from its own monolith complex. Although doing reasonably well as a settlement, there is room for increased productivity from a better-educated workforce that better applies the wealth of the settlement. There is a strong opinion amongst many of the workers and investors of the settlement that the opportunity to be found in establishing an eastern settlement near the metals-rich bluffs on the shores of the Freshwater Sea could be enormous, and proposals of organising a mission have been circulating.
Inefficiency drains off some of the energy production of a settlement, growing worse the further from the center of the faction it is. Better EFFICIENCY ratings can help mitigate these losses.
The Tellus Cooperative itself has enthusiastically invested into waste reprocessing plants, and hopes to enjoy their benefits soon in the future. The Tellus settlement has begun to work modern farms east along the penisula, and its terraformers have begun to establish thorium sifters amongst the farms. Although still the most modest of the Pod 5 settlements, it has a somewhat more secure food situation and should enjoy greater wealth in the future.
Through the efforts of the Pod 5 colonists, Chiron is slowly becoming a more suitable home, although it still suffers from many hardships and difficulties. What the rise of the Stepdaughters of Gaia will mean in the long run is yet to be seen, although it seems an ominous development.