The Let's Play Archive

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

by nweismuller

Part 8: 2161-2170: Self-Evident Truths

Self-Evident Truths

As the Talon Security Solutions scout unit continued exploring the eastern reaches of North Pholus territory, it encountered another swarm of worms in 2161. With the initiative on their side, the scouting company cleared out the worms, pressing on to update charts of Pholus. A year later, they sighted a small band of New Gaian special operations troops, but contact with these was swiftly lost.

Meanwhile, Bushnell Center's continued growth led to a major economic boom in the newest settlement of North Pholus. The prosperity of North Pholus seemed unquestionable.

Even as Bushnell Center entered its economic boom, the North Pholus Intelligence Service succeeded in sneaking into the Dominion capital of Gaia's Landing and setting network taps, surveillance devices, and informant networks that should be sufficient to keep North Pholus Intelligence updated on the current state of the Dominion of New Gaia. With their mission completed, they retreated to hold position in Torrson, maintaining a watch for New Gaian intelligence activities.

By 2163, the basic network infrastructure needed in Bushnell Center was assembled. Soon, the settlement would begin a major push to become the networking center of all of North Pholus.

A year later, Rat Patrol finally succeeded in escorting the strange alien device they had recovered back to Morgan, where Morgan Industries researchers proceeded on an aggressive program of study. Although the original purpose of the device remained unclear, some of the materials in it were suggestive to chemists, whose study led to a solid understanding of chemistry at very high temperatures. Perhaps the most dramatic product of these advances was the material known as 'plasma steel', an alloy with an extremely high melting point that must be formed by 'baking' very thin layers of plasmatic metal onto a substrate and allowing it to solidify. With enough layers to achieve appropriate thickness, plasma steel was perhaps the most durable material available to North Pholus industry.

This also allows us to develop nerve gas pods, but deploying nerve gas is considered an atrocity with severe diplomatic repercussions, and I find deploying units with gas to be imprudent now.

The new materials, of course, led to new potential in military hardware, although it would take some time to smooth out the difficulties in the production process to make plasma steel armor plate or trauma plates standard-issue.

Unfortunately, 2164 also saw the destruction of the Talon reconnaissance unit on the eastern borders, as a worm swarm headed towards New Gaian territory ambushed and killed the surviving troops, swarming from the xenofungus and overwhelming the already understrength company with terror and madness. As this was happening, Tellus suffered something of an economic downturn coupled with an upswing in crime- the settlement was poorly-prepared for its growing population, and many of the younger people in the settlement were part of the only marginally-productive 'drone' class.

In 2165, growing correspondence between ethicists, psychologists, and Nwabudike Morgan bore fruit, with several books on logically-consistent ethical systems based on behavioral data and axioms of goals being published in that year. Perhaps the most widely-read of these was The Ethics of Greed, a book by Morgan convincingly demonstrating the superiority of strategies of honesty, industriousness, innovation, and independence in order to achieve the greatest possible long-term good for a single person concerned with their own well-being. With the ethical underpinnings of a society designed to maximise independence gaining wider acceptance amongst the general population, Morgan proceeded to draft a Constitution for a new Republic which he forwarded first to the Settlement Authorities, then, upon ratification by the Settlement Authorities, to the population at large, which voted to accept the new Constitution. With the new Constitution, the Settlement Authorities had their Boards replaced by elected Settlement Executives for each settlement, and the republic as a whole gained a Colony Executive as the nominal head of state. Nwabudike Morgan was elected as the first Colony Executive, although he swore that he would serve no more than five years in the position.

The Ethics of Greed is indeed a canonical title of a book by Morgan.

In 2168, the terraformer teams outside of Bushnell Center, while working on establishing road and rail links to help service the mines south of the settlement, were assaulted by worms and overwhelmed. Although the worms themselves were shortly thereafter eliminated by Bushnell Center's local garrison, the tragic loss nonetheless set back work there.

The recession in Tellus ended in 2170, with growing employment, consumer facilities, and parks, combined with judicious civilian policing, helping to provide more opportunities for younger citizens and taking the worst criminals off the streets.

I can only assume there is still civilian police work even if you can't use military force to ensure order.

The North Pholus Republic in 2170

With the adoption of democratic control over the functions of the Settlement Authorities, the citizenry as a whole has a greater faith that the government will remain uncorrupted. The general prosperity the republic enjoys has led to larger family sizes, while the refocus of commercial leaders onto their core businesses rather than the business of the Settlement Authorities has helped keep the economy efficient. The limited budgets of the Settlement Authorities, however, do the military no favors.

With +2 GROWTH, we trim two more boxes off the end of Nutrient rows, allowing for even faster population growth, while +2 EFFICIENCY helps reduce losses to inefficiency. The -2 SUPPORT brings us to a total of -3, which means we support no units free per settlement, and get no free bonus minerals for founding a new settlement. This will tend to be quite good economically, but makes a strong military force tricky.

Reserves of capital equipment and money are fairly low at the moment, with transition costs for the new government and investment in development of settlements having depleted much accumulated capital. Still, investment income has slowly increased over the past decade, and innovation remains strong.

Near the southern end of the Great Pholus Ridge, a number of different firms and families, led by Talon Security Solutions, prepares to establish a new settlement, expanding the republic's influence further north. The western hinterlands of Gaia's Landing have been more thoroughly charted, and the eastern border between North Pholus and New Gaia has been marked out.

The growing population in the settlement of Morgan has led to increased exploitation of farms and thorium sifters near the settlement, while investment into the Morgan Mercantile Exchange has continued at a frantic pace. The exchange should be completed within only a few years, bringing greater wealth to the settlement and helping provide investment resources across the republic. Once the exchange is completed, work to help chart out the seas north of the settlement should begin, hopefully to eventually find new trade partners for Morgan Industries and all North Pholus.

Wei Forestry has established a small territory of Earth trees south of Torrson, in readiness for timbering and agriculture. The growing population has encouraged more investment in consumer facilities and amenities in the settlement, before equipment to explore and develop the Freshwater Sea is built.

Tellus now matches Morgan for size, and remains one of the major centers of the republic. The uranium deposits in its hinterlands have been supplemented by thorium sifters, helping deliver prodigious amounts of fuel to the settlement's reactors and helping ensure its business burns on ceaselessly. A major park ringed by shops and theaters runs through its hab sectors, providing recreation and shopping opportunities to the population. Emerald Horizons has planted small seedlings on the land it owns near Tellus, and early profits have begun to flow to it from this land, but true forestation there has yet to be completed.

The production of Bushnell's mines is bottlenecked by lack of transport capacity, and a number of meagerly-productive farms on the western outskirts of the settlement are now in operation. The settlement has developed significant recreation and shopping facilities throughout, and plans to muster a new terraformer team to finish developing the area around the settlement before beginning serious work on improved network facilities.

Both the Dominion of New Gaia and the Spartan Federation have relations with North Pholus strained to the breaking point, and Morgan's policy as Colony Executive has been to minimise contact to avoid provoking our unpredictable neighbors. His term as Colony Executive is up, however, and elections will be held soon. What policy shall be in the future remains to be seen.