The Let's Play Archive

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

by Fangz

Part 27

Lady Skye - Televised speech

Today marks the completion of the Pholus Mutagen. / Backup

The mutagen, as some of you may know, is a series of genetic markers found in all native planet lifeforms, inserted into a modified retrovirus.

Now, by implanting these markers, users can convince the fungus that they are one of the Planet's mindworms, say, reducing the likelihood of a hostile response, and possibly leading to beneficial responses - as the fungus would attempt to defend those it considers its own.

But, while today's news is a great success, and a triumph on the part of the environment ministry's scientists, it is unfortunately not the announcement I had wished to make. I had hoped that today to announce the solution just as I announce the problem, but it now appears that what we have so far is just not enough.

The problem is that the time for which human life can continue to exist on Planet is about to run out. We've finally learned the secrets of Alpha Centauri, and it doesn't look good.

Firstly, we have now, thanks to our satellites, a complete survey of the extent of xenofungus activity on the planet. It reveals that the fungus does not just exist on the surface, but extends deep into the crust, possibly deep enough to reach the mantle and tap into geothermal energy. This confirms my earlier decision to abandon borehole technology as being too destructive.

As for the second, are you familiar with the logistic model of population growth? It's a pretty basic and naive way to predict the growth of a population, but it works well enough. In the model, if population replacement rate is too low, the entire population dies out. For certain low levels of growth, the population reaches a stable equilibrium.

But if growth is above a certain point, the population instead cycles between a number of stages. Now, what we have found is that the basic rate of growth of the fungus is in fact non-constant - it is increasing, and soon will reach this bifurcation point.

The recent south pole expedition found a landscape covered with demon boil class mind worms, despite the lack of nearby human perturbations. It suggests that there is where the fungus has been growing, a sort of buffer. Very soon, this buffer will be full.

What does this mean for us? By our calculations, this phase change will lead to an immediate 20% increase in volume. Because the majority of the existing fungal mass is under ground, this increase will be exhibited on the surface. The fungus will, in the space of a lifetime, become literally miles deep. And in the stress of the fungal bloom period, it is likely that it would regress to the most hostile forms - mind worms, and worse. In time, there will be a dieback, and the cycle will repeat again. But before then, there will be a psychic dead zone stretching for multiple AUs. It would be the end of mankind.

It is possible that we humans can help to break this tragic cycle. But the solution is still unclear. The effects of the Pholus Mutagen will not endure past the bifurcation stage, for in this, the individual fungal elements will break loose of their mutual linkages and consume all higher level lifeforms. I have also attempted to convince the Planetmind -

(audible groans from a segment of the audience)

to discontinue what it calls its 'growthdream', but it is of no use. The entity has no recognition of life and death as we do, and no mere appeal from what it considers its playthings will stop it from throwing a fit. It just doesn't understand.

We can only solve this with the determined application of science. Research spending in Gaia will this year rise to 1600 units, about 16 times that which we think the Hive is spending. All of Gaia's efforts will now be devoted to this.

Now is not the time to lose hope. My advisers had suggested that I keep this crisis secret, in case it leads to mass despair. But I feel that people deserve to know, and that people would understand the role that we must play. I implore each and every scientist, citizen, and soldier to work hard towards a solution. We will succeed, because we have to.

I would also like to appeal to those of other factions to follow suit, to cooperate in solving this crisis, for this is something that concerns us all.

We must not repeat the mistakes of Earth, and let our petty squabble jeopardise our existence and the existence of our children. I, Lady Deirdre Skye of Gaia, say that this is the time to make our stand against history.


Sermon 213, Prophet 'Flower' - Gaian Intel Transcript

At last, gathered faithful, we have the confirmation to our belief. Too long have they mocked us, indeed some of you who have newly joined mocked us, when we spoke of the coming Vengeance of the Planet. Too long has the world ignored the cataclysm to come. Still, we forgive you, those who have come to their senses. The first prophet, Miriam, taught us understanding. The second prophet, Deirdre, has lost her way. The final prophet will come with the dawn, and will teach them all the Truth.

The Truth is, humanity is a curse. A stain upon the Planet. It must be removed. Look around - is the world truly so different from on Earth? War and famine and disease have not followed us here, but have been carried by us. Humanity is not sinful - humanity is sin.

And can sin truly belong here? Look around you, see the pillars that are His monuments. We tread in the house of the Lord Himself. Yet our leaders pattern themselves in the ways of old Babel, learning secrets that are not meant for man! / Backup

Verily, our very lives are sacrilege here. Is it any surprise that God will fight back, will purge the unclean?

But do not be afraid, oh faithful. For to those who keep the faith in the Planet-God, death is but the beginning of a greater life. While the faithless struggle and fight the inevitable, we shall move to embrace it. Even while He smites, He reminds us of His love. We shall trust the Planet, and return this love in kind.

Even as horrors and nightmares plague the nights of our foes, the sweet vision of tommorrow fills ours.

This is the promise of the Cult of Planet. When the end comes, instead of the wracking agony of the Dream Twister / Backup, that great weapon He has delivered into our hands, there will be but the sweetest, briefest transition. And in the aftermath, eternity.

Let us be prepared to do the Planet's tasks in the time ahead...


Secured Chat Log, Gaian Intel

A: Ok, online? You heard what the bosses said. None of our rivals are cooperating, so we're going to drain every last byte of info out of them.
B: Online. Visualisation model loading right now.

A: Shit, wrong IP.
B: Wait, no, it's the right one, we're just doing some bounces to throw off the algorithm.

A: Jeez, I hate the crappy interface the Morganites put on their clients. Can't they use open sourced protocols to connect to the Network Backbone / Backup? They say it's better, but seems like a load of shit to me. Can't believe I used to work for them.
B: Yeah, our trojan went in real easy. Though really the only way to avoid infection is to switch yours off like the Hive do. We've still got a 95% infiltration rate on their nodes, though. You have no idea how much Hivers like porn sites.
A: Ok, we have here... lots of energy.

B: They won't miss it if we divert a bit.
A: Done already. 196 credits, coming up. Going to be sent accidentally to waste disposal. Sending a probe team for the pickup.
B: Nice skills, newb! Hey, you're Roze, aren't you? With those skills, they say you could take over the world..
A: Maybe in another life. Hey, careful, that's a Hive IP. They say that the HSA brainfucks you if you try to connect.
B: No, wait, it's unsecured. Looks like an unpatched University server.

B: Hmm, quite a missile buildup there. Just one file. Downloading...
A: Watch it, it's auto-executing!
B: Shit shit shit sh huh. It's just a text message.
A: Paste me the output.

"Lady Deirdre, I am not a fool. I have of course anticipated that you would try to pick over the ruins of whatever Yang has left of my nation. However I accept that. I assume that at this moment in time, I am either dead or in no position to give a pleasant chat, so I will take whatever channel I can use.

"Yang's attack was, in hindsight, fully predictable. Be sure that you do not fall to the same fate - look in particular to the loyalty of your own.

"I have analysed the samples you sent me. Despite the ignorance I feigned before Yang, scientific curiosity is a habit difficult to break. To my surprise, I reached the same conclusion you did. And more so. I calculate that by the time you read this, you will have uncovered the metastasis inherent in the planetary fungus system. The monoliths, for example, likely correspond to a pre-bloom civilisation that dwelt previously on Chiron, and the pattern of erosion on them is consistent with a cyclical erosion, in some sort of Event. In the absence of meteoric candidates, there is only one possibility.

"In short, you are right. In return, however, I cannot offer you the complete solution. We had simply too many pieces missing from the puzzle. However, I may be able to offer you the start of a solution, a seed that you may have not yet dared look at. Something we tried several decades ago, that failed and may yet rise from the ashes.

"ATTACHED: Project"


Memo to Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gaian High Command

I assume you've seen the farce at today's conference. And I assume we are all beginning to lose patience with our dear Lady. Truly, there is no reason for that woman to be in charge, and more and more reasons for her to be out of charge appear daily.

This is no time to start a panic over some classic environmentalist scaremongering, gentlemen. The enemy is at our gates! Multiple Hive missile strikes impact daily on our cities.

Need I remind you that last year, a Hive paratroop battalion even managed to briefly take one of our towns!

Against this, all the military is given is outdated weapons, fit only for raiding transports and bombarding unmanned economic installations.

Military technology isn't even a priority! Soon, our army will reach breaking point.

I believe then, that this is the time to prepare the extreme measures mentioned earlier. Our forces are still out of position, though. Disloyal units may need to be neutralised.

As for failsafe measures, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that our primary device was knocked out by a lucky hit from a Hive missile.

The good news is that the recent missile defence satellites are now under our control. The recent demonstration was very... interesting.

And what's more, our diverted construction funds are on track for production of even more powerful versions of the Device. Be sure to keep this confidential. The other departments are very unlikely to approve this design.

Be ready, gentlemen. The time to take the reins will soon be at hand.

- General Joaquim, Head of Unified Gaian Military

Big decision today: What will be our future society model?
-None: Borrring

-Thought control: Think Orwell, or Huxley's Brave New World, only better. Negative effects removed by Cloning Vats, if we beat Yang in a race to it. (If we want to do that)

-Eudamonic: Iain Banks' Culture, or Star Trek's Federation. Negative effects irremovable, but possibly irrelevant if we use native units.

-Cybernetic: Tech singularity - see Stross's Accelerando, Ghost in the Shell etc. We've already removed the negative effects.

BTW, efficiency and planet are actually useful beyond +4, even though the text stops changing. Special effects aren't added, but Planet keeps giving a +10% to psi combat per point, and efficiency keeps cutting inefficiency, though with diminishing returns.

Choose wisely...