The Let's Play Archive

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

by nweismuller

Part 16: 2241-2250: The Breaking of Gaian Might

The Breaking of Gaian Might

In 2240, Cal Foster of the Republic Security Party was once again elected as Colony Executive after twenty years out of office. He immediately resumed aggressive operations against New Gaia, Republic rovers crushing the defenses of Autumn Grove and seizing the settlement almost immediately. With the front lines shifted, Rat Patrol was assigned to serve security duty in Autumn Grove until local security forces could be mustered.

Normally, artillery only causes limited damage with no risk of reprisal, but when artillery fires on other artillery, an 'artillery duel' ensues, in which both fight to the death as in normal combat. Artillery in an artillery duel defends with its weapon strength, rather than its armor strength.

With Autumn Grove fallen, diplomats from New Gaia came to issue ultimatums against the Republic, listing their conditions for a truce. Their demands were rejected out of hand as an unreasonable imposition.

A year later, in 2242, negotiations with Commissioner Lal on behalf of the UNCC resulted in the UNCC's Peacekeeping Forces disclosing proprietary military data to Pholan firms in exchange for assistance to UNCC education, after which the Republic brokered another peace between the UNCC and the Planetary University Free State.

The various computer applications provided by the Peacekeeping Forces provided valuable tools for target resolution, interpretation of sensor data, optimisation of large-scale military logistics networks, and calculation of fields of fire for defensive positions. Researchers in machine intelligence found the sensor interpretation routines of particular interest, as any further development into true machine intelligence would require the ability to effectively collect sensory information to operate on.

We shall not be using Punishment Spheres during the course of this game. They are an effective means of drone control, but badly cripple research and are contrary to our values as a society.

In 2243, Prometheus was finally founded by Titan Geothermal and the other firms and settlers who had set forth to back the new settlement. This settlement was ideally situated to take advantage of the geothermal power provided by a long stretch of the Great Pholus Ridge, and had abundant rainfall and fertile ground to support its agricultural needs.

A year later, the two Unity cargo pods still adrift in the Freshwater Sea were finally collected, triggering further kelp blooms as agricultural supplies were scattered in the sea and recovering a rich supply of tools, building materials, and fuel for the colony.

By 2246, both Bushnell Center and Xochimilco had begun to take greater advantage of industrial automation tools to increase local output, and developed growing hab developments around the older settlement centers. Meanwhile, news filtered back that the UNCC was attempting to imitate the North Pholus Republic in rallying its population to make efforts towards supporting the defense of their colony, although it seemed clear that North Pholus had a clear lead in that project.

In 2247, Gaian forces launched a major assault against Gaia's Landing, desperately hoping to reclaim their lost capital. Although the Republican artillery platoon was destroyed in the attack, the assault was a disaster overall for the Gaians. Three companies of Gaian infantry, a platoon of attack rovers, and their own platoon of artillery were lost, and the Expeditionary Force struck at a Gaian terraforming team to ensure a clear path to Lily of the Valley. With Gaian forces reeling, the Expeditionary Force prepared for its next assault.

In 2248, the Expeditionary Force hit Lily of the Valley hard, launching a major missile bombardment that shattered the two companies of defending troops, despite the rings of defenses around the settlement. With resistance broken, the Expeditionary Force moved in to the battered settlement, seizing the primary ecological study facility of the Dominion and their primary industrial and economic center. With Lily of the Valley fallen, the last remaining major industrial center of the Dominion was The Flowers Preach, and recruits and equipment for their military were growing more and more difficult to assemble.

The Gaian government's response to this loss was to once again issue threats and ultimatums, demanding concessions in exchange for truce. Even in the face of looming collapse, the political and religious leadership of the cult of the Stepdaughters of Gaia remained stubbornly defiant and immune to reason.

They are being dismayingly stubborn idiots this game, they are.

In 2249, three more companies of Gaian infantry were crushed, clearing the Gaians from the territory surrounding Lily of the Valley, but not before the Gaians had sabotaged outlying thorium sifters, burnt farm fields, and sabotaged irrigation systems, leaving the settlement with dwindling supplies of food. With the Gaian infantry destroyed, local garrison troops took up positions in an outlying network of defensive bunkers that commanded the roads and rails between Lily of the Valley and Memory of Earth.

Bunkers provide a 50% defensive bonus to units in them, and prevent collateral damage when a unit in them is destroyed. They can be very useful for outlying defensive positions commanding strategic routes, such as that one.

Fighting continued through 2250, with a platoon of Gaian rovers failing to dislodge Republican forces from the defenses southeast of Lily of the Valley, troops out of Bushnell Center hunting down the last remaining platoon of Gaian artillery, and a Gaian special operations team being obliterated by missile fire. Gaian military might stood at the very verge of breaking.

Meanwhile, the growing importance of computer-aided tools led to significant examination of the role of computers and information in society. The conclusions, overall, were optimistic- it seemed clear that the potential that could be unlocked by increasing development of computer capabilities was immense. The general population grew increasingly comfortable with an integration of technology into life previously difficult to imagine.

Given that the things unlocked by Cyberethics all involve 'using computers even more vigorously', I have to imagine the general conclusions of the field are 'yes, please, more'.

An effort was also made to conclude a formal alliance with the UNCC in 2250. Although these negotiations failed due to concerns by the UNCC that the growing geopolitical power of the Republic was a long-term threat to the integrity of the UN Charter, which the UNCC still hoped to establish as the governing law of Chiron, the Republic was nonetheless paid a significant sum of credits in exchange for contact data for the newly-renamed Holy States of the Lord's Believers. Despite the failure of the primary objective of the negotiations, Republican negotiators nonetheless counted the discussions productive and valuable.

The Republic of Pholus as of 2250

With the sprawling territory now administered by the Republic, concerns about the inefficiencies of a continental government have begun to grow. The situation may be good now, but absorbing the remainder of Gaian territory would strain the administrative resources of the Republic to their limit. With the southern portions of the continent now largely under Republican occupation, the name of 'North' Pholus for the Republic has begun to grow increasingly inaccurate. The Dominion still clings to Pholus' eastern coast and the Spartan Federation has settled the easternmost peninsula of the continent, but the vast bulk of the territory and population of the continent is now under the Republic.

Our current settlement limit before suffering Bureaucracy penalties is 15- for each settlement above 15, we will gain one extra drone somewhere in our colony, and these drones can and will cluster together in settlements in a way that makes managing them difficult. Increasing EFFICIENCY by one would increase our limit to 17 or 18; decreasing EFFICIENCY will reduce our limit. Currently, we have 10 settlements, which is no problem, but taking every Gaian settlement on land would push us up to 14. Let's try not to overrun the Bureaucracy limit, shall we?

The Spartan Federation, UNCC, and Free State have all recently established new settlements. These growing colonies slowly tame the landscape of Chiron around them.

Chiron as a whole, unfortunately, has had little opportunity to be better explored by Pholusians as of yet- other matters have engrossed their attention.

The growth of North Pholus over the past decade has been reflected in growing investment and innovation. The Republic's economy is powerful and profits are strong, despite the war effort.

With the growing development of the Pholusian economy and infrastructure, new opportunities are presenting themselves to firms and startups within the Republic. A program of heavy industrial development may have some benefits, although diversion of resources from military endeavors would likely hurt military readiness in that case. Alternately, heavy investment in R&D, communications, education, and the provision of venture capital for new technology startups may have significant benefits for innovation and efficiency in the Republic, although loss of security oversight would be damaging to Intelligence Service operations. Finally, heavy governmental support for a stronger, better-equipped security sector could provide valuable benefits in military readiness, at the expense of heavier taxes diverting significant industrial resources to the security sector.

Wealth has already been explained; it will provide modest benefits to energy income and a noticeable benefit to production speed, at an unfortunate cost to our troop quality, which would be dangerous against mindworms in combination with our existing PLANET penalty. Knowledge will give us a 20% bonus to Labs produced and a +1 EFFICIENCY, helping increase our Bureaucracy limit and reduce losses from inefficiency. Power reduces support costs for our military forces and increases troop quality, at the cost of increasing all production costs for all construction projects in settlements by 20%, and will only be able to be imposed by the Colony Executive, rather than by general vote (reflecting that a larger military force is based on governmental policy decisions rather than normal market transactions).

Morgan is now the largest settlement in the known world, and easily the primary center of commercial activity and innovation on Chiron. Growing industrial output has begun to result in notable pollution, although it is possible shifting market patterns will obviate these concerns soon- several growing firms have been competing for capital in Morgan, and only one is likely to be a major operation in the long term. Morgan Industries has provided a major initial endowment of capital for a proposed Citizens' Defense Force, a volunteer organisation intended to provide training drills, a provisional command structure, civic defense plans, and the maintenance of civil defense infrastructure Republic-wide. After the initial endowment by Morgan Industries, new donations and volunteered time have begun to bolster the organisation, which intends to work closely with the Republic's government in the event of emergency so as to coordinate with professional security forces.

Eco-damage can be generated by terraforming improvements and by high mineral production in a settlement, and provides a chance of Bad Things happening every turn. In general, it is a good idea to try and keep eco-damage minimal. Forests help to reduce terraforming eco-damage, but forest mineral production can itself contribute to eco-damage.

Growing automation of Torrson's industry proceeds smoothly, if slowly. The settlement is now far from the front lines, and the population is secure and prosperous.

Tellus is closer to a full upgrade of local industry, and growing hab development around the settlement is beginning to see new families move in. Projections for growth in Tellus are optimistic.

Bushnell Center is now the second-largest settlement in the Republic's core territories, and one of its two primary industrial centers. Work on a major trunk undersea network line across from Bushnell Center to Hercules and branching in the sea to run east to New Lacedaimonia is laying the groundwork for a true planetwide Internet. Hopes are high that as new trunk lines are built that worldwide communications shall grow simpler, and that the Republic's network standards shall set the standard for every other colony on Chiron.

Improvement of networking infrastructure in Talon is under way, with penetration through the settlement steadily growing. Network connections in the settlement are still relatively poor compared to much of the Republic, but progress is steady.

Xochimilco supports its own automated industry, and exploits a significant hinterland of developed seafloor. The settlement is the port of call for a planned settlement mission spearheaded by Kusisitiza Datametrics, hoping to establish a new settlement in the Sea of Chiron near the coast of Hercules.

The new settlement of Prometheus is still small and lacking in much development, although Titan Geothermal has already begun exploiting the geothermal power along the Great Pholus Ridge. Clearance of a corridor to allow road and rail connections is anticipated soon, and small local firms have been establishing organic reprocessing plants to treat organic waste and gain what resources may be thereby recovered.

Gaia's Landing, although in many ways the most prosperous of the settlements captured from the Gaians, still lags badly behind the heartland of the Republic in development. New garrison forces are being raised here to supplement the defenders, after which civilian development shall follow. The capture of the prosperous farmlands Gaia's Landing previously depended on has greatly helped stabilise the food situation in the settlement.

Autumn Grove supports a strong timber and paper industry, with orchards in the south helping supply its need for food. Organic reprocessing plants have been under development here, and should help further stabilise the local situation. The settlement remains relatively economically depressed, with significant portions of the population still resisting the occupation and greater portions still underemployed under the uncertain conditions there.

Lily of the Valley suffers from food shortages created by the destruction of its farmland, and desperately works on assembling terraformer teams to redevelop its lands. The legacy entertainment complexes here from Gaian days continue to do business, yet to be outcompeted by home entertainment hardware as introduced by Dreamland and its gaming industry competitors. Capture of the Stepdaughters of Gaia Ecological Study Institute has proved to be of immense value to the Republic's terraformer teams- the libraries of data on local ecologies, geology, and meteorology help them to work more swiftly and more efficiently. The local economy is poorly-developed for the great population, and resistance here to the occupation is still fierce. Despite these difficulties, Lily of the Valley has been designated as the primary logistical center for the Expeditionary Force, helping relieve the pressure of military supply on economies in the Republic's heartland.

Gaian military and industrial might is collapsing. Only one major industrial center remains to them, and their military forces have been reduced to seven companies of infantry, only one of which is equipped with impact heavy weapons. The days of the Dominion's status as a great power are effectively over. Every year, they fall farther behind other powers as they strip their economy for military purposes and as innovation is stifled by their theocracy. Still, their leadership seems set on fighting to the bitter end, unable to recognise that they have already been beaten.

The Spartan Federation is a close rival to the UNCC for population, although each is only somewhat more than two thirds the population of the Republic. Ever-growing resources have been poured into the Federation's military, and the training of its soldiers is the pride of the world. Although relatively technically and economically backward compared to the UNCC or Republic, its military technology is still very close to top of the line.

The Spartans with Power Values train soldiers at Veteran with no Command Center, or at Elite with a Command Center. They have very, very good soldiers, now.

The UNCC has a slightly larger population than the Spartan Federation, a powerful and well-equipped military, and a relatively strong economy. Next to the Republic of Pholus, the UNCC is the clear second place in economic strength, and quality of life in the UNCC follows this.

The Free State has established a second settlement exploiting the vast wealth of the Uranium Flats, and managed to clamp down on a brief period of riots that paralysed University Base for a time. Although still weak and small, the Free State slowly is growing into greater prosperity.

Over the past decade, a Conclave of Pastors was called from the various settlements of the Lord's Alliance, establishing a formal unified church doctrine and calling on the mayors of the Alliance to actively enforce Conclave Law. This new centralisation has allowed for a true central government, one that is directly under the power of the Conclave of Pastors of the Church of the Lord's Believers- the Holy States of the Lord's Believers. With the unification of doctrine and the quelling of previously somewhat heterogeneous sects, conformity of thought in the Holy States has increased even further, stifling innovation and experiment, but the unity of purpose of the Believers renders them a formidable challenge for any Intelligence operations.

The Believers, with a +3 PROBE from their factional traits and Fundamentalist Politics, is immune to all or almost all probe actions against them. I forget if it is possible to still infiltrate their datalinks.

The various projects across known colonies to develop major centralised command facilities for their military forces have been abandoned, as colony after colony has run into coordination roadblocks or political difficulties. It seems likely that these projects will never be resumed. Despite the stubborn resistance of the cult of the Stepdaughters of Gaia, the war against them is all but won, and the future seems bright for the Republic.

The Command Nexus is no longer available for construction. No known colony has built it.