Part 19: 2271-2280: An Age of Glorious GoldAn Age of Glorious Gold
Late in 2270, negotiations with the Spartan Federation led to a sharing of cartographic data- the last instance of official cooperation between the Republic of North Pholus and the Spartan Federation in the term of their alliance. The Federation negotiators revealed the Federation had a new settlement established near the northern tip of Hercules, Janissary Rock. This far-flung colony for the Federation, although extremely difficult for the Federation to administer, was a point of pride for their government.
A year later, the primary network backbone into Kusisitiza Future was completed, while developers in the UNCC began their own efforts to establish increased network connectivity between Hercules and Chiron Minor, even as North Pholan interests helped link Pholus and Hercules together into a single network. A year after that, in 2272, the protests that had gripped Gaia's Landing died down, leaving the settlement to enjoy smooth productivity and a high standard of living built on an expert and well-paid workforce enjoying every modern convenience.
By 2274, Lovelace Software quietly announced the completion of their long-running research program, and issued updates to security software for users across North Pholus, with assurances of increased network security. What was unclear to most at the time of the announcement was how much network security had been increased.
The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmRpLLs7SNE As usual, I did not record this video.
Within a year of the announcement, network infrastructure improvements and adoption of robotic industry across South Pholus were further advanced, helping develop the Protectorate further and solidify its economy. Although the Protectorate still lagged behind much of North Pholus in development, the gap between North and South Pholus was steadily narrowing as time passed.
In 2276, North Pholus enjoyed a major new surge of prosperity as the science of ecological engineering was applied to analyse economic damages from pollution and waste, and as the insurance industry in North Pholus moved to negotiate premium changes that helped minimise damages. Other applications of ecological engineering helped devise new strains of fruit-bearing, Chiron-adapted trees, with industry developing further applications for forestry products both as luxuries and as basic industrial goods. Some ecologists anticipated that as new Chiron-adapted trees were seeded across North Pholus, it would provide some alternative habitats for several species of native life, mitigating the collapse in populations associated with continued fungal clearances. The growing prosperity of North Pholus became ever more apparent, with Kusisitiza Future joining the other settlements of the Republic in enjoying very high productivity of labor and a quality of life to match.
Environmental Economics both lifts energy caps per tile- which is HUGELY beneficial to us- and allows an excellent new structure, the Tree Farm, which has benefits for forests, for mitigating the ability of the fungus to respond to our ecodamage, and improves both Economy and Psych output in the settlement it is built in.
The year was not all marked by good news, however. The Spartan Federation, emboldened by their capture of Sanctity Base from the Holy States, unilaterally broke the alliance with North Pholus in 2276, with many political analysts fearing further degradation of relations in the future.
Since the Spartans broke the alliance without provocation, it does not stain our honor- maintaining a high Integrity can be vital to diplomatic relations. Our integrity is still unblemished.
The following year, the North Pholus Intelligence Service inserted informants and observational programs into the Planetary University Free State, helping ensure a flow of current information from that small colony, while swarms of mindworms emerged from an isle of the deep near Lily of the Valley, to be destroyed by local forces within a year.
War erupted briefly between East Pholus and the UNCC briefly in 2278, provoked by the electoral victories of a conservative Gaian party that proceeded to tighten controls on speech and the press, which led to the UNCC condemning the human rights situation in East Pholus even as the East Pholan government condemned the environmental state of the UNCC. This led to a collapse of relations and formal declaration of war. The North Pholan government brokered a truce between East Pholus and the UNCC, while investors in North Pholus bought up 159 billion credits worth of UNCC governmental and commercial debt over the course of the year. A small but notable portion of the economic output of the UNCC began flowing into North Pholus as repayment for the investment.
Sometimes, you can give loans to other factions. In my opinion, this is a powerful option, as long as you can be assured that relations will remain strong for long enough for you to reap the profits.
Meanwhile, Intelligence Service operatives performing a reconnaissance mission north along the Great Pholus Ridge found another strange portable device left behind by earlier inhabitants of the planet. The find began to be transported back to Prometheus, where it could be studied and analysed. Another attack by mindworms led to the loss of terraformer teams working to develop mines south of Bushnell Center, shortly before Bushnell security forces wiped out the worms and lifted the threat to their settlement.
By 2280, two Intelligence service teams sent across the Sea of Chiron in foils had encountered the eastern borders of the Holy States, locating an underwater settlement and a strange settlement along the eastern coast of Chiron Minor buried beneath the ground. It became clear that this settlement was recently captured from 'the Human Hive', a totalitarian dictatorship founded by the Pod 2 colonists.
The Intelligence Service set up information-gathering operations in the Holy States, although its agents needed to enter deep cover and were unable to be extracted. The Holy States, caught between the Human Hive and the Spartan Federation in war, agreed to truce with North and East Pholus in exchange for a payment of 100 billion credits. The North Pholan government reluctantly agreed, raising the taxes necessary to cover this massive expense.
The Republic of North Pholus as of 2280
Exploration further north on Pholus has discovered a major nexus of xenofungal growth and multiple monolith complexes half-buried in the xenofungus, while exploration to the west has started to chart the edges of Chiron Minor, where a major Holy States army has gathered, presumably to push north into Hive territory. The UNCC has settled further east on Hercules, helping tame the whole of their portion of the continent. The exploration ship Adventure has set forth from Lily of the Valley, a heavy seaworthy ship hearkening back to the ships of old Earth.
With massive reductions in waste engendered by recent advances, the size of the North Pholan economy has grown enormously, allowing for continued rapid innovation and investment. Although trade volume with the Spartan Federation has dropped as the alliance has collapsed and scrutiny of cross-border movement has increased, trade volume with the Republic's other trade partners has grown more than enough to make up for the losses.
The settlement of Morgan, already the economic hub of Chiron, has achieved heights of wealth previously unknown on Chiron. By some estimates, the value of the economy of Morgan on its own is greater than the entire economy of Hercules, although measurement on this scale is difficult and prone to errors.
The energy economy of Morgan, at least, is larger than the entire energy economy of Hercules on all three measures- Economy, Labs, and Psych. The industrial output of Hercules via minerals output complicates the matter.
Although Torrson has not benefitted so dramatically as Morgan, it nonetheless has enjoyed a significantly improved economy and quality of life as economic ventures in Pholus have reorganised on more efficient lines. A major new research hospital in Torrson is expected to provide improved care and contributions to advanced medical research within the year.
Fungal clearances along Tellus' peninsula have made room for expanded agricultural land and greater thorium collection, to Tellus' benefit. The improvements from new economic analysis have been minimal in Tellus, but firms in the settlement have been pioneering new advanced forestry methods on a large scale. Even now, many Tellus firms retain a commitment to development in the biological and ecological sciences.
Bushnell Center has continued to grow rapidly, and retains the second-largest economy in North Pholus. It has benefited significantly from new economic analysis methods, and is the primary center of the computing industry on Chiron. Work on overseas cables has resumed amongst many firms in Bushnell Center, which hope to maintain their lead in intercolonial data transfer over UNCC interests. Relatively small-scale mining of the rich bluffs south of Bushnell Center has resumed, but the loss of the terraforming teams to mindworm attack has delayed large-scale mining development. Investors are bidding for the services of remaining Pholan terraforming teams, hoping to accelerate Bushnell Center's development.
The UNCC work on the Planetary Datalinks has meant I am reluctant to delay work on the Planetary Datalinks here. I don't want to lose that race.
Improved robotic industry has helped allow for growth in Talon's habs and population, and the settlement has prospered further over the past decade. New terraforming firms have begun gathering the capital for operation in the settlement, hoping to provide the resources needed for Talon and other settlements in Pholus to thrive.
Xochimilco's factories are in an ongoing process of retooling for new automated processes, while terraforming teams work to planet forests on Dry Island to allow a fresh forestry industry operating out of Xochimilco. Hopes are high amongst the Tlaloc Initiative's investors and executives that, with a stronger industrial foundation, they can secure a permanent and commanding lead in the shipbuilding industry for the future.
Terraformers working near Kusisitiza Future have engineered an 'accidental' bloom of xenofungus while the ownership of the metals deposits on the seafloor east of the settlement is clarified, and have been working once more to clear the fungal blooms. Kusisitiza has been manufacturing equipment for a new, heavily-automated geothermal station in the sea to the south, while purchasing the vessels needed for supply runs between the settlement and the station. The profits anticipated from the operation are expected to be handsome indeed.
Prometheus has been secured against mindworm attack, and a series of small businesses and entertainment facilities have begun to open in the settlement to serve the population. Investment has been gathering behind more new terraforming firms here, hoping to further exploit the virgin territory along the ridge that, for now, still hosts only small-scale farms, mines, and geothermal stations.
Gaia's Landing enjoys higher productivity and quality of life than a decade ago, but remains, in many respects, largely unchanged. Perhaps with time the old capital of the Dominion will further modernise and advance beyond its rather backwater current status.
Autumn Grove remains the primary industrial center of South Pholus, with factory automation now matching modern North Pholan standards. The Sophia Institute, a relatively new organisation founded in Autumn Grove, has begun conducting extensive experiments into human telepathy based on the interactions between the human brain and the xenofungus, and has begun to develop some concrete results in human-to-human communications through 'psionic' means. The Sophia Institute believes that there is still much potential for further developing their research, and has been drawing on volunteers from the 'psionically sensitive' segment of the South Pholan population. Although 'psionic sensitivity' remains fairly rare even in South and East Pholus, it is believed that there is a higher proportion of sensitives in that population than in any other colony on Chiron.
The Empath Guild- a Secret Project that represents early research into human telepathy.
Lily of the Valley has managed to emerge from its economic slump and more, taking great advantage of new economic analytic techniques to improve the efficiency of operations in many firms. The Institute for Ecological Study has developed a successful strategy of licensing its methods to independent terraforming firms while incorporating new insights from the science of ecological engineering which has brought income back into the struggling organisation, which in turn has provided fresh revenue streams to many smaller unrelated businesses in Lily of the Valley that nonetheless served the Institute or its members. The Institute itself has been the single largest entrant into organic reprocessing plants in Lily of the Valley, although a number of smaller firms continue to compete with the Institute to process waste into valuable substances.
The reduced energy income here has finally passed, and the income of the settlement has more than doubled.
Improved network infrastructure in Memory of Earth and improved access to virtual entertainment have allowed for greater productivity at work and more options at play for the population, although it remains a tiny backwater. Population and small businesses have slowly grown here, however, and perhaps the settlement is not quite as isolated and insignificant as it once was.
Recent elections have returned a hardline Gaian party to power in East Pholus, and religious laws have begun to be vigorously enforced at the expense of personal freedoms in that Republic. Still, the East Pholan government remains deferential to North Pholus, and their foreign policy focus has been upon a war freshly declared by the Spartan Federation. The North Pholan Expeditionary Force in Song of Planet ensures that any aggression by the Spartan Federation at the front lines shall unambigiously be acts of aggression against the Republic of North Pholus.
Pity about their Democracy, it was nice while it lasted.
With the Spartan Federation withdrawn from its alliance with North Pholus, trade between the two colonies has grown more difficult, and intelligence on the Spartan Federation has grown more difficult to gather. The Intelligence Service hopes that soon it will be able to insert informants and datacrawlers into the Federation's population and networks, allowing access to current information on the Federation. What has been clear is the Federation's recent military successes against the Holy States, although whether this can endure when the full weight of the Holy States' military is turned against them is less clear.
The UNCC, despite a population only about half the size of North and South Pholus combined, maintains a military equal to that of both Republic and Protectorate. Its economy, small by North Pholan standards, is still the envy of every other colony on Chiron. Even with significant portions of the profits of the UNCC's economy flowing to North Pholan firms who own the bulk of the UNCC's debts, the strength of investment, development, and innovation in the UNCC remains very strong, and the colony manages to retain reasonably friendly relations with every other colony on Chiron, for now. Whatever the differences between the UNCC and North Pholus, the people of the two colonies enjoy a sense of mutual respect and friendship proven by decades of good relations.
The Planetary University Free State, despite its esteem for its scientists and the quality of many of its researchers, actually remains the most technologically-backward colony known to North Pholus. The hardships from their long war with the UNCC and the continuing shortages of many materials have held the colony back, although it is expected they may shortly be able to develop their own terraformer teams that may help to overcome their difficulties. Although much of the Free State enjoys sophisticated network and computer infrastructure, damage and shortages suffered in the war have actually crippled the network in University Base itself, much to the inconvenience of the scientific elite of the Planetary University.
Somehow, they lost their free Network Node in University Base. This has not helped them any at all- they don't have to pay upkeep on the free Network Nodes, so they aren't even a burden on their energy income. They appear to be one year away from discovering Centauri Ecology for themselves, which might help uncripple them. At least a little.
The Holy States of the Lord's Believers are a sprawling centrally-administered morass of settlements under the strict hand of the central Church. The bureaucracy to administer their sprawling empire chokes their administrative capacity, and shortages and local tensions are common, frequently erupting into local riots. Nonetheless, much of the population is fanatically devoted to their religion, and the constant stream of recruits for the Holy States' crusade against the 'Human Hive' leaves the Holy States with a military force that may be larger than that of the Herculean, Pholan, and Spartan colonies combined. Although information on the Human Hive remains limited, beyond that which can be gleaned from Holy States propaganda, it seems that the Human Hive is a totalitarian dictatorship under Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang, former executive officer of the Unity and the highest surviving mission officer. Propaganda from the Holy States suggests that inhumane and brutal control methods intended to condition any hint of free will from the inhabitants of the Hive are standard, and that the Hive's settlements are all cramped subterranean warrens bored out from the rock itself. This, at least, would explain Yang's puzzling request for the bulk of the drilling and boring equipment from the Unity stores. Although the Holy States' crusade against the Human Hive has gone well, it has begun to lose ground in the south against the Spartan Federation. It remains to be seen how the course of the war will go.
Although this decade has brought unprecedented prosperity to North Pholus, whether the fragile peace the Republic enjoys can last is a matter of deep debate as the elections for Colony Executive approach, and the first solid news of the Human Hive has been deeply disturbing to many individuals in North Pholus, even if Yang's bizarre experiment in social control seems to be faltering before the wrath of the Holy States. Who can predict what the future shall bring?