The Let's Play Archive

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

by nweismuller

Part 24: 2321-2330: The Global Trade Pact

The Global Trade Pact

In the 2320 Colony Executive elections for the Republic of Pholus, Marcus Li of Talon Security Solutions was once again elected to the post, promising to prosecute the war against the Spartan Federation until the unconditional surrender of the Federation. Early in 2321, the governing Spartan military council, concerned about the severe military losses suffered by the Federation, opened negotiations with the Republic of North Pholus, hoping to avert catastrophic losses that would compromise the Federation's ability to defend itself. Although Federation negotiators, hoping to retain the governing council's position, opened with bluffing, they swiftly agreed to an unconditional surrender once it was clear Colony Executive Li would not be dissuaded from prosecuting the war to its conclusion. The old ruling council was dissolved, and a commission appointed by the Pholan government was set in place to oversee the Federation's transition to constitutional governance, while a permanent alliance was concluded between the Republic of Pholus and the new Federation government.

With the war concluded with a decisive victory for the Republic of Pholus, Song of Planet was returned to East Pholan civilian administration, with no further military threat to the settlement. Further, Colony Executive Li immediately resigned following the peace negotiations, holding that his role in winning the war was now over. He proposed a referendum on a constitutional amendment to limit any future Pholan Colony Executive to no more than 20 years in office, which was overwhelmingly ratified by the voters. A new election was held, in which the North Pholus Commerce Party candidate, Jared White, a noted criminal defense attorney from Morgan, was elected to the Colony Executive position.

One of Colony Executive White's first acts was to open negotiations with the Planetary University Free State, arranging for the Free State to surrender claims on Zoloto-Gold and the northern end of Pholus, in exchange for the Free State taking possession of the occupied settlement of Greenhouse Gate. The elected council of Zoloto-Gold, previously subordinate to University administrators, was confirmed as the sovereign government of the settlement, and its independence guaranteed from all other colonies by the Republic of Pholus in exchange for assurances that the council would remain open to commerce and investment from the Republic. With investment from Republican commercial concerns, the settlement swiftly modernised, becoming in many ways an unofficial extension of the Republic.

While the Colony Executive ensured Zoloto-Gold's future as a Republican satellite state, investors in the Republic began large-scale investment in Free State sovereign debt, providing much-needed capital for the Free State's internal development and ensuring returns to the investors for many years to come. Over one hundred twenty billion credits of University debt was purchased.

Even as the internal economic development of the Republic of Pholus continued, tragedy struck Talon late in 2322. A minor insectoid pest species common on Chiron suddenly radically altered its behavior, breeding uncontrollably, starting to attack Earth flora in the region, and then eventually dying in large numbers from residual poisoning from an Earth-based diet. Although farmers and forestry managers in Talon took desperate steps to control the outbreak, the bizarre plague of insects was unable to be stopped before burning itself out. Fortunately, Talon was situated in a relatively fertile and rainy portion of Pholus, and the croplands replanted after the disaster could still provide enough food to avoid outright famine. Still, the impact on food prices and the property damage was immense, and agricultural and forestry firms across the Republic began to develop a keen interest in sponsoring xenobiology research departments that could help prevent future disasters of this scope.

A Biology Lab in the settlement chosen for this random event will prevent any negative effects.

As the so-called 'Planetblight' raged across the region around Talon, a new settlement was being established by Pholan settlers east of Prometheus, in the western portion of the Sea of Pholus. Amongst the firms and investors backing the effort was the 'Extropy Group', a research consultancy firm specialising in work on machine intelligence. Easily accessibility to shipping and air transport allowed the new settlement of Extropy Holding to rapidly grow and prosper, and, within a year, its labor productivity and wage rates were comparable to many other Republican settlements, despite the continuing need for more economic development in the settlement.

Over the same year, continued investment in the Republic saw Lily of the Valley make major advances in education opportunities and pediatric medicine offered by local medical clinics, while Torrson became the second settlement in the Republic to complete a major launch facility suitable for orbital traffic. Work to exploit space slowly accelerated.

The following three years saw a steady period of innovation and economic growth in Pholus. Perhaps the most exciting development in that time was a series of breakthroughs in customised genetic design, allowing new traits to be designed from scratch and integrated into a subject's genome without need of existing genetic sequences for reference. Although any specific adaptation may take significant engineering and modeling effort to implement, the potential for medical applications and for the augmentation of human capabilities in the long term was impressive. Meanwhile, Tellus became the third settlement on Chiron to use fusion power on an industrial scale, while Extropy Holding completed the establishment of a high-grade network infrastructure to support business, research, and personal informational needs.

In mid 2326, the UNCC called for a second election for Planetary Governor, running Commissioner for Human Rights and Intercolonial Affairs Pravin Lal against the sitting Planetary Governor, Susan Bright. When the ballots were tallied, Bright retained the position, which remained largely ceremonial. Only in the UNCC and in the Free State were the votes dominantly for Lal, and the Holy States boycotted the election altogether.

While, on Pholus, the year 2327 saw continued economic development and the implementation of safeguards against new outbreaks of Planetblight, in the Holy States the year was marked by an eruption of the Prometheus Virus at The Leader's Horde. Catastrophic organ failure killed thousands, and the settlement was driven to the brink of collapse. It was, perhaps, the single worst outbreak of disease in Chiron's history, and the tragedy shook confidence in the Church of the Lord's Believers amongst many of the citizens of the Holy States, accelerating the formation of 'heretical' dissident groups.

The new settlement of Rajan Estates was also established that year at the northern end of the Great Pholus Ridge, an experiment in large-scale prefabricated living space rapidly sold out to Pholan settlers and immigrants from other colonies. Although other structures began to grow around the central tower, Rajan Estates was marked by the massive hab facility divided into individual apartments that dominated the settlement's heart.

The UNCC contacted the Republic of Pholus for aid that same year, as the peace between the Holy States and the UNCC had broken down. Colony Executive White was reluctant to commit to any foreign wars, and negotiations stalled without progress. The UNCC also attempted to gain access to fusion power technology, but investors in the UNCC were unable to muster sufficient capital to purchase the needed data and training for their engineers.

The next three years saw continued economic growth across the Republic, with improved industrial, agricultural, forestry, and network infrastructure being implemented in various settlements across the Republic. Perhaps the most notable development, however, was the continued development of economic sciences, helping identify investment and market opportunities across the entire global economy and providing the material to begin to persuade populations across the planet to accept a more open intercolonial trade regime. Economists on the Morgan Mercantile Exchange payroll estimate that a total investment of between two and three trillion credits by Pholan firms in foreign concerns could lay the groundwork for a radical modernisation of the global economy, providing significant profits for Pholan investors and immense benefits for consumers worldwide as global productivity spiked upwards. Nwabudike Morgan, in response to this report, makes a public statement that the potential public relations potential for Pholan ideas and ideology in such a modernisation would be immense, helping not only immediate material conditions but the long-term stability of the various peaceful and friendly relations enjoyed by the Republic of Pholus. "We may, in the long term, be looking at the development that could mean an end of military competition for resources on Chiron."

Planetary Economics unlocks the economic victory of SMAC, as we buy up critical portions of the economy of all our competitors. It requires that we first pay a hefty lump sum of credits, then hold out for thirty years with our headquarters intact.

In 2330, Nwabudike Morgan commissioned a detailed study by the Morgan Mercantile Exchange economists, showing precisely what benefits could be expected from a radical liberalisation of intercolonial trade practises, intercolonial investment, and intercolonial migration. Although support for vigorous and open intercolonial commerce was always strong in the Republic of Pholus, many foreign colonies were more reluctant to fully lower barriers to trade and investment. This study finally helped provide a convincing case for many previously reluctant politicians and voters in other colonies. A referendum by Republic citizens provided a strong mandate for Colony Executive White to negotiate a new Global Trade Pact based on the recommendations in the study. In the end, the Republic of Pholus, the UNCC, the Republic of East Pholus, the Spartan Federation, and the Free City of Zoloto-Gold were signatories, leaving only the Planetary University Free State and the Holy States outside the terms of the Pact. Even the Free State found itself shifting intercolonial trade policies, based in large part by pressure from its allies in the UNCC and the Spartan Federation. Intercolonial commerce boomed and with it global productivity in the wake of the Pact, leaving only the economically-isolated Holy States with no significant benefits from the new global conditions for trade.

Following the ratification of the Global Trade Pact, the Republic of Pholus made overtures to the UNCC to lower the last remaining trade barriers and conclude an alliance. Although the UNCC attempted to secure Pholan assistance in their war against the Holy States as a condition of closer alliance, in the end the alliance was ratified without requiring Pholus to commit to a new war. Colony Executive White received assurances from Commissioner Lal that the UNCC Colonial Assembly would be willing to support a peace settlement with the Holy States, if the Republic could bring the Holy States to the table.

The global trade pact and the UNCC alliance together increased our annual income by over 100 credits and our annual labs by over 200, as well as cementing the Golden Ages in some settlements that were on the brink of not being able to maintain them. This was an EXCELLENT development for us. Other colonies also got benefits proportionate to their intercolonial commerce, for a general improvement of situation globally.

The Holy States, although resentful and suspicious of the 'decadent' Pholan superpower, nonetheless reluctantly agreement to reach a peace settlement with the UNCC. Although their borders remained closed, hostilities ceased. With the end of this war, Chiron was at peace, at least for the moment.

The Republic of Pholus as of 2330

Human settlement has slowly spread over the surface of Chiron over the last decade, and the steady retreat of the xenofungal forests continues. On the bulk of Pholus and on southwestern Chiron Minor, the xenofungal forests have essentially been eradicated, drastically altering local ecological conditions and paving the way for a semi-engineered ecology largely based on Earth species. Elsewhere, the clearance of xenofungal forests has been less dramatic, but still has steadily proceeded. Some scientists estimate the xenofungus could be functionally extinct on Pholus within the next Mission Century.

The UNCC has settled more of the western reaches of the Sea of Unity, Holy States settlement into the Sea of Mnesimache has been extended, and Pholan settlement has pushed further north over the last decade. The world is being further and further shaped by human settlement, development, and terraforming.

Internal economic development and massively increased intercolonial trade has had dramatic effects on Pholan investment and innovation over the past decade. Although many firms have gone bankrupt in the rapidly changing economic climate, new market entrants have popped up rapidly to replace them, and real incomes and levels of investment in Pholus have never been higher. Some estimates claim that the Pholan economy has nearly doubled in size over the past decade. Morgan Mercantile Exchange reports are more conservative, but what cannot be argued is that Pholus enjoys an age of staggering abundance, with the Pholan economy and industrial complex adapting to easy access to resources from all across the world.

We went from gross income of 215 annually and 398.4 labs annually to a gross income of 402 annually and 742.8 labs annually over the course of one decade. This doesn't account for the minerals or nutrient economies, but still means an enormous increase in output over a decade, far greater than population growth. As a great deal of our energy income goes to psych, we can assume that a great deal of this improvement is felt in luxuries and conveniences for the general population.

Morgan, as ever, is the heart of the Republic of Pholus. Productivity here at the heart of the Republic is immense, and incomes are commensurate. Many estimates place the total annual economic activity in Morgan as significantly greater than the annual economic activity of Hercules or of Chiron Minor. The new breakthroughs in genetic engineering over the past decade have offered the possibility of a cheap, mass-market longevity innoculation, which, although not allowing the reversals of aging damage provided by the expensive rejuvenation treatments enjoyed by the wealthy elites of every colony, could greatly slow aging and allow much longer and healthier lives for the broad mass of humanity. Phoenix Genetic Medicine, Limited, a Morgan-based company, has been aggressively pursuing this possibility, hoping to market cheap longevity treatments worldwide once a treatment has been engineered.

Torrson, like the other settlements of the Republic, is booming, enjoying a massive influx of new wealth. The borehole mine southeast of the settlement is very near completion, while a second agricultural orbital station to compete with Orbital One is in the process of engineering and assembly near the Torrson launch facility.

Tellus' growth has been bolstered not only by expanded trade, but by industrial-scale fusion power implemented over the past decade. Morgan Industries' Xenobiology Division has started a major project in Tellus to attempt to exert some control over the reactions of xenofungal forests, the better to clear them for further development and for improved security near settlements.

Bushnell Center, which has already enjoyed great benefits from the expansion in trade, is on the brink of being the fourth settlement to deploy industrial-scale fusion power, while a bolehole mine south of the settlement is only a few years from completion. The future seems very bright for Bushnell Center and its people.

The catastrophic effects of the Planetblight near Talon have retarded growth here, although terraforming firms are slowly redeveloping the surrounding countryside. Improvement of local forestry and agriculture is expected to help better secure Talon's economic future, once they are fully implemented in the local economy. Still, things are definitely better here on balance for the average inhabitant than they were a decade ago.

The recession that had previously gripped Xochimilco has passed, and productivity here is up. The Poseidon Project's role in the local economy is much smaller than ever before, despite its prominent place in Pholus' shipbuilding industry. Work on improvement of the forestry management on Dry Island has been undertaken by local forestry firms, who expect major benefits to accrue from the project.

Rapid population growth combined with underdeveloped hinterlands supplying local industry had threatened to throw Prometheus into a slump, with the first significant concentration of drones in Pholus in over a century, but the boom engendered by the Global Trade Pact has proved a boon for local productivity in Prometheus, and for the opportunities available to the population there. Social problems that had threatened to drag down Prometheus' position have begun to evaporate in the face of higher real incomes, productive employment, and steady development of skills in the workforce here. Even so, demand for terraforming teams to better-develop the area around Prometheus is extremely high. Investment in a modern research hospital by a local medical firm is expected to have its own benefits for the local population, once it is completed.

Prometheus' fast population growth was outstripping its development, and we had a very brief interruption in its Golden Age due to drones showing up. This has now been dealt with.

Kusisitiza Future has enjoyed strong population growth once local industry and hab facilities were modernised, which has been matched by development of support facilities surrounding the settlement. Local financial and industrial infrastructure to support future development has been sponsored by banks and industrial firms, although there is a growing recognition that there is a critical need for improved education facilities to help improve the quality of the local workforce and reduce waste and inefficiency from poor workplace practises.

Fairly heavy inefficiency here, which makes a Children's Creche start looking like a critical investment.

Given the local importance of forestry, improvements in forestry and the establishment of interlaced agriculture in the outlying forests is expected to have massive benefits to the local economy in Gaia's Landing. New terraforming firms have been gathering investment, planning to respond to the demand for better development of the territory east of the settlement.

Autumn Grove is prospering, one of the two primary economic centers of southern Pholus. The Sophia Institute has begun research on a method to establish small-scale empathic communications networks for security use, intended as a defensive measure against mindworm attack. By allowing soldiers who retained their nerve and discipline to attempt to rally their comrades overwhelmed by the psychic terror and hallucinations induced by mindworms, it should allow for security units to retain far greater cohesion and suffer far lighter losses under mindworm attack, and the technology is expected to pay significant dividends to the Sophia Institute once implemented and marketed.

Lily of the Valley is immensely more productive and wealthy than a decade ago, with a greatly increased population, improved education helping improve the efficiency of the workforce, xenobiological research facilities helping ensure against the threat of Planetblight, and the benefits of vastly increased intercolonial trade. Local industrial and financial infrastructure is undergoing further development, which is expected to further bolster industrial output and investment in the settlement.

Memory of Earth is solidly prosperous and developed, now, and local agriculture and forestry firms have been investing in xenobiology departments to help protect their investments. The loss of local terraforming teams has set back development here somewhat, and investment is under way to recruit new terraforming teams to address critical demand issues in the region.

Extropy Holding has the basis of a local economy in place, and has quite adequete local labor productivity. Investment into terraforming firms here is high, to help develop the virgin waters surrounding the settlement. The settlement is a minor, but productive contributor to the Pholan economy.

Rajan Estates, like Extropy Holding, is still a young and relatively poorly-developed settlement, with a strong demand for improved terraforming in the surrounding region. Still, it is firmly linked into the global network, and a prosperous enough settlement by global standards.

Zoloto-Gold is, technically, not actually part of the Republic of Pholus, although the extremely lopsided geopolitical power of the two colonies combined with the close defensive and economic ties between the two has led most inhabitants of Chiron to consider Zoloto-Gold functionally an extension of the Republic. The bulk of Zoloto-Gold's trade is with the Republic itself, and, although conditions have significantly improved with Republican investment in the settlement and the removal of the stifling weight of the Planetary University, Zoloto-Gold still does not meet Republican standards of labor productivity and wage rates. It is anticipated, however, that Zoloto-Gold will catch up to the Republican standard, given time. As with Extropy Holding and Rajan Estates, investment here is focusing on new terraforming to tame the wild landscape surrounding the settlement.

Zoloto-Gold's government is run by an elected council, which has gone from a mere administrative layer under the Planetary University administration to a fully-sovereign government with full power over security, diplomatic, and policy questions. The council has largely adopted an economic policy model based on that of the Republic of Pholus, both for diplomatic reasons and because of the general consensus that the Republic of Pholus has scientifically proven the effectiveness of its model. The general population, although pleased at their independence and the new prosperity they have enjoyed, has been laboring under a vague apprehension that surely there must be a catch they have not yet seen. Their experience under the Planetary University has ingrained cynicism deeply in their psyches.

Zoloto-Gold is still too small to be in Golden Age, and lacks any commerce partners because we have more settlements than any of our friends. Even so, moving from the Free State to the Republic of Pholus has done it immense good.

The Republic of East Pholus remains a relatively rustic backwater, by standards of the global economy. Local development is limited and the population and government have been reluctant to embrace a vigorous commercial culture and fully open economic policies. Only the Flowers Preach and Water Garden, of all their settlements, can truly be said to be commercial or industrial centers. The vast bulk of the population is involved in small-scale agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, and fishing, with limited food preservation and canning industries supporting an export economy. Much of the economy of East Pholus is supported by food exports to the west, providing hard currency which is then used to purchase services, technology, and manufactured products on the world market. Cultural confidence in East Pholus remains rather low, although the secularist Nautilus movement that currently dominates East Pholan politics and culture has helped forge a new cultural identity for the colony. Ultimately, the prosperity and success of East Pholus relies on the fruits of the Sea of Nessus, and a respect for that sea and the people who work it pervades the Nautilus movement.

The Spartan Federation has re-established a constitutional democratic government with a service-limited franchise, much as the Federation had historically before the re-emergence of rule by military council. The members of the old military council still largely retain their military positions, although they have been barred from careers in politics and steps have been taken to ensure civilian control over the military. Economic reforms, programs of privatisation, and large-scale trade with the Republic of Pholus have also been undertaken, helping strengthen an already stable industrial and economic system, and the Federation is a respected source for quality manufactured products of many kinds. Although its commercial weapons industry is perhaps the most famous example of its economy, many more peaceful industries have flourished in the colony.

Although the new Federation government guarantees civil and economic rights at a level unprecedented previously in Federation history, it is still more comfortable with emergency powers of censorship and surveillance to ensure the security of the colony than the Republic of Pholus or the UNCC. Although the economy is much freer than it ever was before, the Federation continues its enormously expensive commitment to a top-quality military presence, which places a relatively heavy tax burden on the population and a significant drain on the colony's industrial resources. The population at large has benefitted from a new surge of wealth and freedom, but many of its people remain poor and discontented, and previous propaganda and diplomacy measures which the government could rely on are no longer effective in silencing dissent. Investment over time is expected to improve conditions for many of the poorest of the Federation, but nonetheless the Spartan Federation still struggles with its transition to a new model.

The UNCC continues to maintain the strongest economy and highest quality of life of any colony outside of Pholus. Its economy has re-adjusted to a more balanced model over the last decade, and local implementation of fusion power has just started in the colony. More than any other colony trading with Pholus, the UNCC has managed to see success with many of its domestic industries competing against Pholan firms, with local firms that survive the fierce competition adapting and growing more efficient and effective. One company that has suffered greatly in the wake of the Global Trade Pact, however, is Union Heavy Industries, whose position has increasingly been eroded by foreign competition and whose reliance on a cozy relationship with the Colonial Assembly is no longer as valuable as it once was. The new alliance with Pholus has been viewed as a triumph of diplomacy, and a step towards an enduring planetary peace, as has an alliance with the Free State which has helped secure peace on Hercules.

Although conditions are generally good in the UNCC, the colony has suffered from a number of anti-war protests against deployments to fight the Holy States in the Sea of Unity, and the bureaucratic inertia of UNCC government has led to persistent stories of minor abuses in several settlements. Even with these difficulties, most inhabitants of the UNCC are distinctly prosperous and happy.

The UNCC has one Golden Age at the moment, and no riots anywhere, which is definitely an acceptable state of affairs. Issues with some Pacifism penalties are preventing what could be a few other Golden Ages, and the UNCC has enough settlements relative to its EFFICIENCY that it is starting to get Bureaucracy drones. That said, the drone problem in the UNCC is generally well under control.

The Planetary University Free State is still generally poor and underdeveloped by global standards, and remains only a minor player in world politics. Nonetheless, uranium exports and the use of uranium reactors to fuel industry in its northern territories give it a higher per-capita income than East Pholus. Major improvements in education and communications both in the University proper and amongst the general population have helped make the Free State more efficient and more effective in its scientific endeavors, and the University administration has made the policy decision to relax the colony-wide economic planning previously characterising the Free State's economy, giving local councils significant latitude in local economic policy as long as the councils provide the supplies, materials, and money needed for University operations.

The settlement of Greenhouse Gate, hoped to have been a valuable acquisition for the Free State, has been a disaster, with pro-Federation rebels having locked down the settlement since it was placed in the Free State's hands. Meanwhile, amenities and quality of life for average citizens in the Free State's core territories has slowly been improved, helping silence the worst grumbling against the University administration. Even so, the Free State remains decidedly impoverished, and struggles with a cynical and unmotivated citizenry.

The Holy States remain a social and economic disaster. The economy collapses under its own weight, with continual breakdowns of equipment and infrastructure. Violence and dissent wrack the vast territories of the Holy States- fully half of its settlements are paralysed by riots and small-scale rebellions. They are almost entirely isolated from the global economy, with only a somewhat limited trade association with the Spartan Federation breaking their isolation. There is persistent suspicion that the trade with the Spartan Federation has provided cover for smuggling of weapons and supplies to rebels, and a channel for the flight of refugees who take shelter in the Federation, the UNCC, or in Pholus.

The Conclave of the Church of the Lord's Believers is reluctant to use the term 'civil war', and even outside observers are not entirely certain if the situation in the Holy States qualifies as a civil war. Nonetheless, if it is not, it could easily be tipped into full-scale civil war at the slightest provocation. Many rebel groups have been assembled under the umbrella of a movement in favor of re-establishing the loose confederated structure of the Lord's Alliance and abandoning full-scale theocracy as practised by the Conclave. Although not pro-democratic in any sense that would be recognised by outside colonies, this opposition movement nonetheless is recognised by many outside observers as likely to be less repressive than the existing government, and to re-establish at least limited religious freedom if it gains power. Under the umbrella of this alliance is also a coalition of labor groups originating from Human Hive resistance groups. Although many of these groups have absorbed a veneer of Christian theology in their time in the Holy States, they tend to have a less religious focus, and greater focus on opposition to political and economic totalitarianism. These labor group rebels are generally recognised as likely to establish local democratic settlements within the wider confederated system advocated by the rebels as a whole.

Much of the world enjoys an era of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and freedom, with political and economic repression amongst different colonies less widespread than ever before. The Holy States on Chiron Minor are still tormented by violence and repression, but constitutional democratic government with more or less free economic systems reign supreme in every other colony, and intercolonial relations and commerce have never been stronger. The potential for a future of peace, freedom, and wealth is apparent before Chiron, although it remains to be seen if this can be achieved smoothly.