The Let's Play Archive

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

by nweismuller

Part 26: 2341-2350: First and Final Causes of Creation

First and Final Causes of Creation

Early in 2341, economic analysts in the Republic of Pholus observed a rebalancing of investment, with more revenues once again sunk into R&D to support future growth. The year saw development of new energy generation and storage industries in Memory of Earth, and the emergence of recycling firms in Rajan Estates. Most notable, however, was the completion of a Morgan Industries xenobiological project intended to override and suppress local communications in the xenofungus neural net. With the normal psychic 'weight' of the xenofungus prevented from acting on terraforming teams, and with signals projected to encourage the formation of paths through xenofungal forests, work to clear xenofungal forests for future exploitation and the security of neigboring settlements could proceed much more swiftly and safely.

Link to video for the Xenoempathy Dome here: As ever, the video was not recorded by me.

Meanwhile, Pholan forces hunted down the company of Holy States troops that had made an incursion into Pholus, wiping them out in a decisive battle. The Planetary University Free State, which was beginning to suffer from increasing political pressures both from its undercaste and in the Planetary University itself, made a declaration of war against the Spartan Federation based on tensions along the borders near Greenhouse Gate. The government of the Republic of Pholus was able to convince Zakharov, in his person as political head of the Free State, to overrule other elements in University Administration and restore a state of peace and friendship before any real hostilities erupted.

The following two years saw continued development of the economy in the Republic of Pholus, and, late in 2342, breakthroughs in the use of retroviruses to radically rewrite major sections of the human genome in a living or developing subject. One of the earliest possible applications of this technology would be the resurrection of what had been a fruitless project when it was originally pursued by the Human Hive under Sheng-Ji Yang- the development of a substrain of humanity with radically reduced intelligence and personal initiative and increased endurance, intended as a labor force for tedious or dangerous industrial tasks. The potential of such a development sparked a major debate amongst voters in the Republic of Pholus, which led to a referendum passing in mid 2343 banning the creation of human substrains with intentionally crippled capabilities as a crime against the person yet unborn being modified. Approximately two-thirds of the electorate voted in favor of the referendum, which had support from many prominent figures in the Republic, including Nwabudike Morgan himself.

Retroviral Engineering unlocks the Genejack Factory, which increases the minerals produced by industry in a settlement, but increases the number of drones present. The facility can be a two-edged sword, and the creation of subhuman slaves is a very dubious ethical proposition in itself.

In 2344, Chiron saw a landmark historical moment, with the first permanent settlement established off Chiron itself. Several firms built facilities to cultivate and refine synthetic fossil fuels on the surface of Nessus Prime, taking advantage of the low gravity to greatly accelerate the growth cycle of the micro-organisms critical to the process. Surrounding the refineries themselves was a collection of subsidiary industries manufacturing paints, lubricants, coolants, sealants, plastics, and other products from the synthetic hydrocarbons, as well as some specialised pharmaceutical laboratories, and services supporting the population of the settlement.

The new settlement, 'Exoplanetary Refining' presented multiple challenges, requiring life support systems sealed even more tightly than on the surface of Chiron, requiring frequent expensive supply flights from the surface, and requiring new programs of genetic medicine and exercise regimens to adapt the human body to a much lower-gravity environment while maintaining health. Despite all this, the settlement thrived and prospered, and its products drove a notable drop in costs for petrochemical products on Chiron, the immense productivity of the settlement outweighing the costs of operation and transport. Industry across the Republic benefited from the products of Exoplanetary Refining, and the settlement was admitted to the Republic shortly after its foundation.

The increase in SUPPORT changes our previous requirement of one mineral for each unit supported by a settlement to instead give us one free unit supported per settlement. As every settlement we have supports at least one garrison unit, as well as potential mobile units or terraformers, this means we effectively get one extra mineral in every settlement, boosting our industrial output in a modest but notable fashion. is the video link for the Project.

While the people of Pholus reached beyond the bounds of Chiron, the people of the Holy States were wracked by a staggering tragedy. An outbreak of the Prometheus Virus originated in the settlement of Great Conclave, in the heart of the thickly-settled Monsoon Jungle region. Before the spread of the disease was halted, it had spread to the settlements of New Eden, The Coming of the Lord, Judgement Seat, and Great Zion, causing a massive death toll in all five settlements. By the time the epidemic had burned itself out, somewhere between ten and fifteen percent of the population of the Holy States was killed by the outbreak of disease.

This calamity strained the already struggling social cohesion of the Holy States to the breaking point. While the Conclave of Pastors was in session in the Great Cathedral in New Jerusalem, a splinter sect extremist named Malcolm Harrison waited in the storage cellars of the Cathedral with a collection of terraforming demolition charges, which he detonated once the Conclave was all gathered. In an instant, one of the architectural and artistic treasures of Chiron was destroyed by a massive blast, and the entire Conclave was killed in the collapse of the Cathedral, effectively decapitating the Church of the Lord's Believers. In the aftermath of the attack, any semblance of the Holy States as a unified political unit was shattered, with the central religious and political authorities dead and with no clear line of succession. Elements of the Holy States military high command in the Leader's Horde attempted to assert themselves as the 'legitimate' continuation of the central government, but only a fraction of the army rallied behind this military government. The continent was torn between warlords and militias, with factions comprising various extremist religious fanatics, a number of relatively orthodox local religious leaders and the local governments and security forces backed by those leaders, religious moderates hoping for the restoration of a system similar to the old Lord's Alliance, democratic moderates enjoying the support of the Republic of Pholus' Intelligence Service, and several opportunistic local military leaders.

Although the political instability in the Planetary University Free State was not as severe as that in the Holy States, it nonetheless was sufficient to lead to a severe diplomatic breakdown with the Republic of East Pholus which would have led to war had negotiators from the Republic of Pholus not intervened and prevailed upon Zakharov to once again act as a voice of sanity in the Free State. Zakharov's position was growing increasingly tenuous, and many voices within the Planetary University decried the Free State as a failed experiment.

The year following, a new industrial alloy was developed with unprecedented tensile strength and durability, dubbed 'silksteel'. This new material would endure wear in the most hostile industrial environments and presented a potential for the improvement of military armor beyond what had been previously possible with plasma steel alloys. Many industrial applications, particularly in borehole mines, began to make use of silksteel components for improved durability and reliability.

By 2346 continued development of Pholus' space support industries had spread to Bushnell Center, while Rajan Estates developed a thriving ecosystem of local service firms and entertainment for its population. In Morgan, a massive experimental supercollider sponsored by Morgan Industries began providing huge quantities of data for basic physics research, and attracting new science and research firms to the settlement. The rate of innovation in Pholus accelerated with the new insight into fundamental physics, and Morgan Industries collected significant profits from usage fees for the supercollider facility. is the Project video for the Supercollider.

The year also saw the eradication of an incursion of mindworms near Bushnell Center, and a proposal floated by the Spartan Federation's government to salvage the hulk of the Unity. The proposal failed to pass the Planetary Council, with both the Republic of Pholus and the UNCC arguing that any such project was best delayed until at least a partial resolution of the situation in Chiron Minor.

The remainder of the decade saw an incredible flood of investment and economic development, with improved productivity all across the Republic of Pholus. Amongst the new developments were two new deep space solar installations joining the first, helping to collect the energy output of Alpha Centauri, both launched in 2350. Meanwhile, continued development in the Free City of Zoloto-Gold saw it begin to see labor productivity as strong as that in the Republic of Pholus proper, with commensurate increases in standard of living.

Two major advances in the understanding of physics were also announced in the last years of the decade, driven largely by the new supercollider facility. In 2347, the proof of the existence of magnetic monopoles and a method to reliably synthesise them promised to lead to extremely precise manipulation of magnetic forces. Use of monopoles in a controlled tube to pull rail promised to eventually deliver swift and inexpensive delivery of freight and passengers between settlements, accelerated and decelerated by massive magnetic forces through vaccuum-sealed rail tubes. Then, in 2350, a unified field theory that provided a coherent and consistent mathematical description of all the fundamental forces of physics at both quantum and relativistic scales was developed by an inter-firm physics research team led by Alice Rhine of Rhine Scientific Services, Limited. Continued work on the implications of this unified field theory promised to be enormously fruitful in the prediction of new phenomena and in helping to precisely account for physical forces in advanced engineering.

The 'Theory of Everything' Project unlocked by the Unified Field Theory I take to be the effort of working out the implications of this enormously important physical theory so that it continues to generate valuable predictions applicable to current challenges in science and technology.

As the decade finally came to an end, Chiron once again came into perihelion. Thought this was expected to cause greater worm activity over the next two decades, the continued efforts to clear xenofungal coverage since the last perihelion were expected to at least mitigate the risks of this period. Hopefully this perihelion would pass safely and without difficulty for the Republic.

The Republic of Pholus as of 2350

Terrforming of Pholus has continued steadily, with xenofungal forests continued to be pushed back on the continent and on the coasts, and with the countryside about settlements growing steadily more developed. Terraforming time is still at a premium in the northern reaches, whose hinterlands are still underdeveloped and still have some nearby xenofungal forests yet to be cleared. Populations continue to rise, and, near Memory of Earth, the beginning of the first high-speed high-capacity magnetic propulsion rail tube has begun. It is hoped that eventually mag tubes will link every settlement on Pholus, speeding the already impressive rate of commerce.

Despite continued economic growth, the renewed commitment to funding of R&D programs in Pholan industry has slightly reduced the rate of accumulation of investment capital for future development. The rate of innovation and of development of new technologies, however has increased dramatically, going far beyond the previous peak. The exploitation of space is steadily growing in importance in the Pholan economy, as more space facilities are constructed and more settlements develop port facilities to accept deliveries of products from space.

With the new innovation stimulated by the supercollider facility in Morgan, it is estimated that the output of patents and scientific papers in Morgan matches the entire scientific output of the world outside of the Republic of Pholus. The wealth of the wealthiest city of Chiron only continues to grow.

Economic growth in Torrson has been more modest, but still noticeable. The settlement, already prominent in heavy industry, has turned much of its industrial expertise to space industries, continuing to earn dividends from the launch of spaceborne facilities. Exoplanetary Refining, originally founded primarily by settlers from Torrson, remainds one of the smallest settlements of the Republic, but industrially vital despite its small size.

Tellus has enjoyed modest economic growth over the past decade, pulling it out of its previous downturn. Morgan Industries still maintains a major xenobiological research facility here, dedicated to continue to improve methods to speed elimination of xenofungal forests. Construction of a new borehole mine northeast of the settlement has begun, and is expected to greatly bolster the local economy.

Development of spaceport facilities and further development of land to the east has driven healthy economic growth in Bushnell Center, strengthening an already very strong economy. As with many other settlements, the area around Bushnell Center's spaceport hums with activity in the hopes to send new space facilities aloft.

Continued development of the region, improved early education and the establishment of full-scale fusion power generation, and growing populations have seen a major period of economic growth for Talon. With growing incomes the demand for advanced medicine in the settlement has continued to grow, and local medical firms compete fiercely to establish new and modern hospitals to attend to the needs of the people of Talon.

Growing commerce, growing populations, and improved power generation and storage systems for local industry have helped fuel a respectable economic and industrial expansion in Xochimilco. The settlement's economy is steadily strengthening and diversifying, and quality of life remains very strong.

Improved forestry methods and agriculture, new industrial-scale fusion generation, and a slow process of development of the hinterlands have helped greatly strengthen the economy of Prometheus. Much of the land surrounding the settlement is still underdeveloped, but this is slowly changing over time.

Kusisitiza Future has seen dramatic growth over the past decade. Fusion power generation, various light industries related to wood and paper products, and a massive surge in population have helped make the settlement one of the largest economies in the Republic. Although it will never be considered a major center of heavy industry, it is a center of innovation and research second only to Morgan, displacing the previous place held by Bushnell Center. A slow and expensive process of raising the deeper portions of the ocean floor near Kusisitiza Future has begun to expedite better development of the seas. This process has revealed a previously concealed patch of xenofungal forest on the seafloor, but the steps to eradicate this infestation are already under way.

As with Kusisitiza Future, Gaia's Landing has seen extraordinarily rapid population growth over the past decade. The local energy infrastructure has been upgraded by local firms, and firms offering educational and health services for young children have improved quality and services, helping cement economic growth in the former South Pholan capital. Another borehole mine is under construction near the settlement, expected to bring the world total to five when both under construction are completed.

Autumn Grove, in addition to the improvement of local early education, has seen the establishment of industrial fusion generation and a spaceport in the settlement. The population has grown notably, but the settlement's economic strength has grown even faster, making it a center of heavy industry to rival Torrson, even if it lags the more northern settlement in total economic output and innovation.

Lily of the Valley has seen little economic growth over the past decade, as other settlements have grown and helped displace its previous position in intercolonial commerce even as its domestic economy has strengthened. It, as with many other settlements, has become a center of space industry, seeking the abundant resources available beyond Chiron's surface.

Memory of Earth has seen local development thrive, with fusion power and improved terraforming providing increased incomes and increased industrial outputs. It, too, has become one of the leading heavy industrial centers of the Republic. Growing investment has begun to flow into medical firms in the region, helping to serve the demand stimulated by rising incomes. The first mag-tubes for rapid heavy freight have begun construction just outside the settlement, but they are far from completion.

Rajan Estates has made major strides in the expansion and diversification of the local economy, and the development of the countryside about the settlement continues. Although xenofungal forests near the settlement have continued to be pushed back, the settlement is still on the frontier of the Republic, and xenofungal forests stretching very near to the settlement itself present a security threat.

Extropy Holding has grown rapidly, and the local economy is quite well-established, if perhaps held back by the poor development of much of the sea near the settlement. Terraforming firms are working to clear xenofungal forests both at land and sea and strengthen the position of the settlement, which has begun to invest in the equipment for improved forestry techniques for its hinterlands on land.

Services, education, and organic recycling in the Free City of Zoloto-Gold have seen major improvement, and the thick xenofungal forests near the settlement have begun to be beaten back while the land about the settlement is developed. The Free City is thriving, and has become in many ways indistinguishable from any other frontier settlement of the Republic of Pholus.

The Republic of East Pholus, now finally renamed the Republic of the Sea of Nessus, has seen steady economic development over the past decade. Cultural influence from the west and major investment by firms from the Republic of Pholus have inexorably begun to shift the culture and politics of the colony, and in many ways it is beginning to resemble a largely sea-bound junior version of the Republic of Pholus. Only the most die-hard reactionaries still cling to the original ideals of the colony before the seductive pull of Pholan opportunity.

The Spartan Federation is, perhaps, the least economically successful of the three major powers of the free world, and struggles to integrate its overdeveloped military industries with a free economy. Still, despite its difficulties, quality of life in the Spartan Federation is better now than ever before, and a Spartan expeditionary force is being prepared to pacify the southernmost peninsula of Chiron Minor, putting down the struggling warlords and adding new territory to the Federation once overwhelming force can be applied. The Spartan adaptability of society and the lesser shocks their society has suffered compared to the Sea of Nessus colony has meant the Spartan Federation has retained more distinction of culture from the Republic of Pholus, although even in the Federation Pholan industry, brands, and ideas have become prominent.

Growing Pholan economic influence in the UNCC has shifted many of the brands and products familiar to inhabitants of the UNCC, but the UNCC retains a strong and confident cultural identity. Growing economic relations have helped bolster prosperity, which has only encouraged greater optimism for the future in the colony. The colony maintains a powerful military force as a guarantee against any threats from abroad, helping to maintain a watchful peace.

The Planetary University Free State is a colony in political crisis. The general population has become progressively more aware of the prosperity of the UNCC and the Republic of Pholus, and has become highly dissatisfied with the stagnation of their conditions. Many members of the Planetary University itself have become convinced the entire technocratic experiment that was the colony has proven to be a dismal failure- what originally promised to allow untrammeled work at the frontiers of knowledge has instead proven to continually be forced to rework ideas developed in other colonies, and the entire justification for maintaining control over the colony has grown thin. Some elements in University Administration, searching desperately for a way to salvage Administration's fraying hold on the society have looked to once again tighten economic controls, while Prokhor Zakharov himself has taken to an extended series of secret negotiations with the UNCC. It seems clear that the Free State cannot go on as it is for much longer, but its ultimate fate still remains unclear to most.

The central government of the Holy States has entirely collapsed, leaving rival factions to struggle over the fate of the continent of Chiron Minor. The military High Command in the Leader's Horde has established a strict totalitarian police state over a modest empire, but its control is brittle and it is hard-pressed to even hold what it has taken. Much of the northern coast, though relatively thinly-populated and less-developed, has nonetheless begun to thrive in relative terms as a secular democratic government, the Free Republic of the North, has established itself and helped ensure the rule of law in its territory. Although the Free Republic of the North retains a very poor culture for innovation, it has proven to be industrious and resourceful in rebuilding a functional heavy industrial base to support itself, and has taken full advantage of money and weapons from Pholus, the Spartan Federation, and the UNCC in securing its position. The northern ports have been opened to foreign trade, providing the first gateway for the ideas and products of the world into Chiron Minor.

20 of 30 Holy States settlements are in Drone Riots. This is the point where I say there's no point in pretending it isn't an outright civil war anymore, and instead begin to prepare for the epilogue.

With the collapse of the Holy States, the last major threat to world peace has been swept away, although smaller security threats remain from the wreckage of the colony and from the volatile Free State political system. The civil war in the former Holy States has proved to be a major source of human suffering, but the Free Republic of the North and the efforts of Lord's Alliance partisans have begun to create pockets of relatively enlightenment amidst the chaos. Perhaps, someday, peace can be restored to Chiron Minor, and prosperity can begin to blossom there for the first time in many, many years.