Part 9: 2171-2180: Davey Jones' LockerDavey Jones' Locker
In 2170, the first elections for Colony Executive were completed, and, in a very close race, the North Pholus Commerce Party candidate, Susan Bright, beat out the Expansionist Party's Leonard Smith. The Republic Security Party, running Cal Foster, trailed behind the other two major parties. Bright, originally a lecturer on psychology and ethics at Planetfall University, resolved to continue North Pholus' historical policies of peace, trade, and neutrality, while building up security forces as possible. Shortly after these elections, in 2171, Bushnell Center had developed its own spread of shopping and entertainment venues, helping to provide ease and comfort to its citizens, while news filtered from the Spartan Federation that they would attempt to imitate the Morgan Mercantile Exchange being developed in the settlement of Morgan.
Meanwhile, Rat Patrol, which had been escorting new colonists to the northwest, engaged and destroyed a swarm of mindworms with Ashworth Armories phosphorous incendiary grenades, making them easily the most battle-hardened veterans in North Pholus. By this time, Ashworth Armories was the primary supplier of incendiaries for North Pholus security forces, and the Ashworth 6.12mm rifle round had been adopted as the new standard for the current generation of North Pholus assault rifles. With the area clear for the moment, the settlement of Talon was established, housing the new headquarters of Talon Security Solutions.
Shortly thereafter, with their own shopping and entertainment districts growing and the populace more contented, Torrson, which had slumped into a brief recession as the decade started, enjoyed an economic recovery.
In 2174, the Morgan Mercantile Exchange officially opened for business. This massive stocks and commodities exchange served as the primary center of trade in investment in North Pholus, and helped ensure that investment capital was raised more efficiently for new ventures. With the growing business in Morgan, the settlement prospered even further, the bright center of an already magnificent Republic. With it growing clear that the Federation Stocks and Commodities Exchange would be, essentially, a pale shadow of the Morgan Mercantile Exchange, the Federation refocused its efforts on attempting to create a robust and powerful virtual network for entertainment and training in its territory. It became clear that there would be a race between the North Pholus effort in Bushnell Center and the Federation effort, and the North Pholus companies sponsoring their own effort had no desire to be outdone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez7AFPX9RYE Once again, none of these videos are my work, and the links on the side may be spoiler-laden, but I still recommend you watch.
The Tlaloc Initiative began work in Morgan on an armored scout foil, with security provided by a trained contingent from Archangel Security, one of the smaller security firms in North Pholus. The hope was that, through exploration of the sea north of Pholus, a profitable site for settlement could be found, salvage from the Unity recovered, and contact with other colonies could be made.
2175 was a year of major accomplishments for all three known colonies. In North Pholus, development of fairly sophisticated computer algorithms reached new milestones, allowing North Pholus to take a commanding lead in software sophistication. Meanwhile, researchers in the Dominion of New Gaia had established a comprehensive library of terraforming methods based on geological and ecological observations, allowing them to minimise the needed effort to develop land, while the Spartan Federation swept into Greenhouse Gate, the easternmost New Gaian settlement. The frontiers of the war had shifted, and the Spartan Federation enjoyed early victory.
By 2176, the first new companies of troops with plasma steel armor had been deployed in North Pholus, helping to smooth out the manufacturing difficulties of the new technology. By the end of the decade, troops with this new technology would reinforce the existing garrisons in Bushnell Center, Torrson, and Tellus, and would form the initial security force in Talon.
In 2178, Fruits of the Sea had commissioned a small fleet of work boats in Torrson, planning to recover salvage in the Freshwater Sea and better-develop the fishing grounds used by Bushnell Center. Although the first pod they recovered contained a wealth of valuable machine tools, refined petroleum fuel, and raw materials, which provided a windfall for Fruits of the Sea and for North Pholus as a whole, the second pod they recovered proved to be infested by an aquatic vector of the mindworms, the 'isle of the deep'. It was found that mindworms gathering together into a swarm produced buoyant gases which allowed them to float and manuever over the water's surface, and the work crews of Fruits of the Sea were lost with all hands.
Two years later, in 2180, the Tlaloc Initiative exploration vessel found another infested pod, and moved to take evasive action. Whether this would prove to be sufficient in the end remained to be seen. Meanwhile, amongst concerns raised by the New Gaians on the southern border, a program of modernisation of equipment in the Torrson garrison was undertaken, replacing the old conventional alloy armor inserts with tougher plasma steel.
The Republic of North Pholus as of 2180
Republic and Dominion sensor arrays watch each other on either side of the border south of Torrson, providing early warning of any hostile action. Terraformer teams have begun to work to clear away swaths of xenofungus, opening the land for road and rail links and providing security zones near Torrson. The isle of the deep encountered in the Freshwater Sea has disgorged mindworms between Torrson and Morgan, while the Isle of the Deep in the northern Sea of Pholus prepares to pursue the Tlaloc explorer. Terraformers have established road and rail links between Bushnell Center and its mines, and are starting to develop points west. The Federation capital of Sparta Command remains the most populous settlement in the known world, although the North Pholus Republic now is home to more people than either the Dominion of New Gaia or the Spartan Federation. Greenhouse Gate, although under Spartan rule, still retains its New Gaian cultural identity, and the people there cooperate only grudgingly with their conquerers.
Newly-conquered settlements retain their old identity and architecture style for approximately 50 years after conquest, and produce extra drones as the population resists the conquest.
Innovation and investment continue to grow. Expenditures into reinforcing and modernising the North Pholus military have consumed much of the immediately available investment capital in the Republic, but the balance sheets remain healthy.
Morgan is easily the settlement with the highest quality of life in the known world, and is the primary center of commerce for the Republic. The growing economy has led to efforts to improve the capacity of the reactors supplying the settlement, and create vaults for long-term storage of thorium and other energy storage mediums. The financial sector has also responded to this, as secure storage of thorium is one of the core functions of a 'bank' in North Pholus. The local garrison has not yet been reinforced, and remains with outdated armor.
The development of consumer services and entertainment facilities in Torrson have been good for its quality of life, and the settlement thrives. Its garrison has been doubled in strength and thoroughly modernised in equipment, and is provided early warning by a sensor network in the forest to the south, as it seems likely that Torrson will be the flashpoint of any war prosecuted by the Dominion of New Gaia. Terraformer teams nearby are starting to break down and tear up the xenofungus, hoping to remove any cover that mindworms could use for an easy approach.
Sensors allow everything in a two tile radius to be seen, even if it is under cover of fungus. Early warning also provides a 25% bonus to defense in a sensor's area of effect, cumulative with the 25% defense bonus provided by a settlement.
Tellus, like Torrson, has had its garrison doubled in strength, although its equipment remains divided between new plasma steel armor and older conventional alloys. Emerald Horizons has finished developing a new forest on the land it holds, providing a supply of fruit, nuits, timber, and paper in Tellus. With no xenofungus approaching the settlement as closely as elsewhere, Tellus would seem to be relatively safe from mindworm attack with its reinforced garrison and early warning.
With rail lines helping deliver the output of Bushnell Center's mines to the settlement, the workers in Dreamland Games and Lovelace Software are able to manufacture new servers and new network equipment as fast as they can work, while software development and testing continues at a furious pace. It may be a long road to completion of their great project, but they are confident they can beat out Federation efforts and prove their commercial superiority. Sparse farms and small-scale mining operations stretch off to the west, with terraformer teams working to set up proper modern infrastructure in these underdeveloped hinterlands.
The new settlement of Talon is still relatively underdeveloped, but the presence of a monolith complex and the fertile and rainy terrain surrounding them have stood them in good stead. The beginnings of a garrison force are in place, while reprocessing plants are being established by small firms here.
The Dominion of New Gaia is now distinctly lower in population than the Republic of North Pholus, although Gaia's Landing is still more populous than any single Republic settlement. Even with an increased focus on research in New Gaia, they have made no new breakthroughs other than their long-running applied project of terraforming methods over the past decade. Diplomatic relations and government form remain essentially the same.
The Federation, the least populous of all three known powers, retains its social and economic structure. Diplomatic relations with North Pholus are very tense, and current intelligence on the Spartan Federation remains scarce.
The past decade, although on the balance good for North Pholus, has not been unmarked by tragedy, and the future still remains uncertain. One can only hope the new decade goes smoothly.