Racing the Darkness: A Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Fan Fiction Photoessay

National Profile: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)

The Soviet legacy was a complicated one for Mission Survivors. To Americans, Anglophone Canadians, a majority of Britons and Eastern Europeans, the Portuguese, African whites, the Iranian elite, Bolivians, Yugoslavs, Afghans, Greeks, Filipinos, Australians, and about half of Scandinavians, Soviet Communism was best described by President Ronald Reagan: "Life as it could be, not as it should be, Mr. Ustinov."

There was truth, of course, to these concerns. Soviet citizens were the property of the state. There were no freedom of the press, no freedom of movement, and only a sad simulacrum of free enterprise beginning in the 1980s. Particulars prohibitions might change at the margins, allowing for self-expression or retroactive critique of past leadership, but the labor camps were once again full in 1980 and remained that way until the 2020s. There were a dozen Soviet satellite states, and little effort wasted on pretending that orders were not passed down daily from Moscow. East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Qwin, and Koryo were only rarely out-of-step with the Soviet march. The special plight of the Afghan peoples, driven from their homes, their children maimed by landmines, was rarely out of the American press.

Yet the Soviet Union was indisputably a superpower. Russian standards of living rose sharply during the later half of the twentieth century, especially in the largest cities. By 1980, the average lifespan of a Soviet citizen was seventy years--up from forty in 1917. Soviet education produced world-class physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians, engineers, geologists, and computer scientists. The Soviets led the way into space and achieved numerous firsts: first orbital launch vehicle (1957), first satellite in orbit (1957), first person in space (1961), and first person on the Moon (1969). Other Soviet inventions included the programmable computer (1950), the nuclear power plant (at Obninsk in 1954), the hologram (1962), and the personal computer (1965). Soviet medicine was known to be well advanced in the areas of aerosol vaccination, organ transplant, and the humane treatment of psychiatric conditions. The Soviet navy actively participated in arctic and antarctic research. Aeroflot operated the world's largest fleet of commercial supersonic passenger aircraft and, from 1982, carried all space traffic sunward and back by special agreement with the United Nations, over the strenuous objection of Comprehensive Transport and the United States of America. In 1994, the U.N. adopted Soviet principles of construction for mid-ocean rigs as a global standard. Soviet automobiles and farm machinery were ubiquitous features of modernity in Second and Third World countries. Soviet assistance was indispensable to infrastructure megaprojects like Egypt's Aswan Dam, Cuba's Juragua Nuclear Power Plant, the Sunda Strait Bridge, Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam, reconstruction of the former Dutch space elevator at Jakarta, and the Lake Baikal Diversion that watered most of northern Mongolia.

The Soviet moon landing of June 26, 1969.

Among Arabs, Frenchmen, almost half of West Germans, for an overwhelming number of Africans, and in India, "the Russians" were treated with hopeful caution. Anyone not warm in the American embrace or held fast beneath a European thumb could rest assured that the Soviets would take an interest. They would listen. Advocate in the world's great multilateral forums. Remonstrate, perhaps, with the Americans or the Europeans. And when the time came, the Soviets would live up to their words--with generous subsidies of arms and men. The French, the Indians, and to a lesser extent the free Baltic states, learned to play the Soviets at their own game. "The French Proxy" entered Western lexicon as any vote or initiative in the U.N. out of character for the caster but advantageous to Russia. It was an open secret that French and Indian firms resold Western technology to the Soviet Union, especially electronics. Embarrassed by the politics of the decades-long Afghan debacle, the Soviets touted instead their popularity in Xinjiang, where they were greeted as liberators by the oppressed Uyghur majority in 2017. Strong Soviet allies included Cuba (before 2050), Ethiopia, Nigeria, North Vietnam, India, and Indonesia.

Snow falls early in East Berlin in September 2062. Traffic along the Old Wall is light.

The Soviets were active humanitarians, making the largest per-capita commitment to recovery operations in the Indus Valley Exclusion Zone among all contributing nations. Soviet hydrologists played a major role in earthquake and tsunami response in Turkey, Syria, India, Japan, Israel, Lebanon, and the IOEZ.

Soviet tractor used to string cable car line in the foothills of the Himalayas to assist with the relocation of industry from the IVEZ. Later resold to Gath for work on the Sapphire Railway, a rack-and-pinion railway used to climb the Saggrinid Mountain Range. The inheritors named their craft "Tyrannus" in a pun on popular criticisms of their king.

Western scholarship has coalesced around the idea that there have been two phases of Soviet foreign policy: a Timid Phase shaped by American boldness during the short window of its nuclear supremacy in the 1940s and early 1950s, and a Muscular Phase beginning with the Sino-Soviet Clash of 1969 that reached its maximum expression with the Christmas invasion of Afghanistan ten years later.

Soviet war planners were caught off-guard by the American escalation to atomic warfare in Korea, and it caused them to throttle back on actions that might have been considered provocative to Washington. Although the primary human costs were felt by the Chinese and North Koreans, the Soviets contented themselves with seizing a small buffer zone to protect Vladivostok before pressing Beijing to negotiate. A final accord was reached in February 1952, leaving the South Koreans in control of a mostly unified but utterly wrecked peninsula. The American public hailed the war as a great victory and wondered what else the Bomb could do for them, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Korean recovery cost them more in blood and treasure over the next twenty years than Korean defense had in less than three. Just two years later, the Americans let the French use four small atomic bombs in Indochina, underlining the mortal danger to any power that could not reply in kind.

Soviet leadership was spooked. Huge new investments were made hardening the U.S.S.R.'s strategic rocket forces and increasing both rail-based launch systems and ultra-long-range bombers. Despite local superiority of conventional and nuclear forces in Europe by 1960, the Soviets remained concerned about American unpredictability. When the Americans agreed to remove PGM-19 Jupiter missiles from Turkey in return for removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba in October 1962, the Politburo felt the two powers had come to something of an informal understanding--a tit-for-tat relationship in which saber-rattling had no place. They tried diplomacy instead, toning down their bellicosity almost to the point of obsequiousness, even ceasing material support for independence movements working against the French, hoping to widen the growing rift between the United States and its European allies over the Suez Crisis. The strategy paid some dividends in 1966 when the French withdrew entirely from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, although critics charged that the Soviets had missed huge opportunities to influence the direction of post-liberation politics in Africa. The wooing of France became a blueprint for future Soviet adjustments of the international order. (Similar overtures to Portugal were less successful, and the Soviets persisted in supporting both the MPLA and FRELIMO into the new century.) Threats of military force were more useful against those too weak to resist: a mid-decade build-up of forces on the Finnish border dissuaded the new Scandinavian Union from affiliating with NATO altogether, and wrong-footed the Dutch in Indonesia, eventually dooming their attempts to preserve a colony there.

Then came disaster. For most of 1969, the Soviet Union and China were at war in northern Manchuria. From that point forward, Soviet attentions shifted decisively eastward. The Fulda Gap remained a convenient political pressure point, and Moscow continued to recognize the United States as its primary competitor for global influence, but Soviet forces expected, and prepared, to fight against a numerically superior enemy on a front spanning more than 5,000km. China was the more urgent threat. By 1974, growing desperate, the Soviets added a new tool to their arsenal: the All-Union Science Production Association Biopreparat, which would give rise to the world's largest and most dangerous bio-warfare program.

Soviet space efforts, code-named "Firebird," meanwhile lost ground during the 1970s as the geopolitical storm clouds gathered. To compensate, the Soviets tried sabotage. There were several clashes between American and Soviet moon men. Each side accused the other of provocation, but the Soviets got the better of most of the fights, which later records confirmed were pursued at Moscow's instigation. It did little good. The U.S. Marines were authorized to add 2,000 "space commandos" to their ranks. In 1980, the Americans built the first permanent colony on the Moon, taking back the initiative in the Space Race. The U.S.S. Orion, a space-borne warship, went up that same banner year and finished trials in '85. The new American president, Ronald Reagan, terrified the Politburo, and they readily believed his assurances to the world media that Orion could shoot down ICBMs in-flight.

Enter new Soviet Premier Marat Barrikad, who had spent time in the United States and thought himself a keener judge of the American psyche than most of his contemporaries. Barrikad believed that as American military superiority increased relative to the Soviet war machine, a countervailing soothing effect would result. They would come to see themselves as invulnerable, and the Soviets as an unworthy opponent who no longer demanded a forceful response. Democratic Party opponents were already criticizing Reagan as a cowboy, and even fellow Republicans worried over the runaway costs of his defense build-up. This gave the Soviets options. Barrikad dialed up support for liberation movements in Southern Africa, where white minority governments and colonial regimes were fighting a rear-guard action against Western public opinion. Soviet infusions of money, advisers, and equipment were carried out through Cuban, Yugoslav, and East German clients, and timed for peaks in the cycles of mutual alienation between Portugal and the State Department.

With nuclear power flowing freely in the United States, Barrikad also saw his moment in the Middle East. The Soviets rebuilt the armies of the Syrian-Arab Republic and egged them on against the Israelis (an over-calculation that cost Jordan a fifth of its national territory, culminated in the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat, and, paradoxically, reinforced the growing American conviction that the Soviets were second-rate competitors). After learning that the Shah was sick with cancer in 1978, Barrikad accelerated support for Iraq. Reasoning that China was more afraid of the Soviets than the Soviets of China, Barrikad reopened diplomacy with Beijing, securing a long period of deescalation. He welcomed Indonesian independence as a Communist state, ignoring the ill-fated rump in Dutch New Guinea, and, in 1991, hacked Italy from NATO through support for a successful Socialist majority in that country's parliament.

The Soviet's worst blunder came in the late 1980s, when Barrikad tested American resolve by passing a low-yield nuclear warhead to the Iraqis for use against Iran. The backlash was swift and overwhelming: the Iranian military swept across Iraq's northern tier to effect the secession of Kurdistan while the Americans quickly and correctly traced the offending isotope back to its source.

While Barrikad drew down funding for subsequent Soviet moon landings and imposed delays on the country's answer to Orion (less an expression of doubt than to avoid economic overheating), he pushed for greater action in the Inner Solar System, and is usually acknowledged as the major influence responsible for the Soviet grip on activity above Mercury and Venus. These latter footholds proved to be a saving grace for the Soviet economy. When Barrikad died in 1992, he was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev, whose name is now synonymous with political and economic liberalization. To achieve his vision, Gorbachev forged close relations with fellow leaders in France, Italy, Turkey, and India, often cooperating on industrial and research projects to spread costs.

The twenty-first century for the U.S.S.R. was dominated by five themes: discovery and interaction with the Mercury vulcanoids, renewed conflict with China and the United States, environmental catastrophe, interference in the IOEZ, and post-liberalization criminal activity.

In 1982, Soviet probes discovered the hypothesized vulcanoid objects inside Mercury's gravity well, some of which contained new elements, including Barrikadium-109. The hard currency earned from strip-mining these asteroids in the early 2000s helped keep the Soviets afloat through the disruptive "shock therapy" of exposure to the free market under Gorbachev and the "snap back" that followed when the hardliners returned to power six years later. The Soviets did make important contributions to the settlement of Mars and the exploration of Titan but otherwise kept their focus sunwards. The Soviet space program was always bedeviled by the lack of access to a friendly space elevator, and benefited considerably after the Indonesian Revolution from the restoration of the elevator built by the Dutch at Batavia, renamed Jakarta.

Denezhnaya Kul'tura (Денежная культура) gave Soviet bureaucracy an overlay of glamor designed to impress foreign audiences more at home in New York and Tokyo.

By 2017, the Russians had reached the point of defensive alliance with India. Pakistan hastened into a similar arrangement with China, which increasingly worried about the breakdown of civil order in the nuclear blast zones created during the 1991 Six Minute War. In March 2017, the Pakistani government was facing crisis. Popular unrest in Dacca was overwhelming civil authorities. India was threatening intervention on humanitarian grounds. At the invitation of the Pakistanis, China invaded Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese calculus was three-fold. First, the Chinese Politburo hoped to signal to India that it would not tolerate intervention in favor of Mukti Bahini guerillas in East Pakistan. Second, Chinese leaders believed the gains they would make could be traded away during subsequent negotiations for favorable concessions in northwest India. Third, Chinese leaders wanted better intelligence on the quality of the Indian Armed Forces since the nuclear holocaust. The war was a disaster for both Pakistan and China, resulting in Bangladeshi independence and the destruction of most of China's nascent blue-water navy after the sinking of two of its aircraft carriers at the hands of Indo-Soviet task forces. (Quite the feat, since both the Indian and Soviet navies suffered from very poor maintenance practices and Soviet aircraft cruiser Kremlin experienced a deadly shipboard fire just hours before the engagement that sank the Shandong.) The war ended in 2019 with a Chinese return to prewar borders and powerful Pakistani misgivings about the value of Chinese friendship that pushed them toward the waiting Americans. This was not the optimum result for Moscow, but it did at least review the instructive lesson of 1969 that Soviet arms were not to be trifled with.

The Soviet Union's greatest coup against the United States since the 1970s occurred in Quebec, where the Soviets worked closely with the French and the United Nations to gain the province's independence during the Second American Civil War. Soviet involvement was extensive: Soviet submarines delivered weapons to Felquiste terror cells and Soviet special forces helped inflict serious casualties on the NATO (mostly American and Commonwealth) forces that could be spared to help Canada's small army hunt the terrorists. The Soviets used frequent false-flag attacks to turn public opinion against Ottawa, massacring Francophone civilians and blaming Anglophone "Black Watch" militias. There is scattered evidence to indicate that Soviet troops also entered the United States to leaven state separatists and Holnist forces despite the avowed anti-Communism of those movements; many of the sub-contractors provided by Morgan Industries affiliates were Russian speakers who claimed to come from the Russian Diaspora.

The Soviet Union was an Alpha-class nation--more than ten percent of the country's landmass was claimed by rising sea levels. Only Western Europe and certain Polynesian islands suffered greater calamity. Most nations coped with the change by taking to water. The Soviets in particular preferred land or space, drawing their displaced peoples inward and building large habitats at the L1 and L2 LaGrange Points. Soviet industry was highly active in what became the badly-polluted intermingling of the Black, Aral, and Caspain Seas. The problem was made considerably worse by the prevalence of industrial disasters, especially nuclear disasters, within the country's borders, which exposed tens of millions to life-altering illness and inflicted severe losses on Soviet agriculture so that the country was often a net importer of food.

Following the example of Barrikad, later Soviet leaders maintained a large civil and military presence in the IOEZ, where training and cooperation with the Indian Navy helped create the groundwork for successful joint maneuvers during the 2017-19 war. Soviet missions were no different than those carried out by other Great Power interlopers: delivering humanitarian supplies, ferrying evacuees from the path of typhoons, suppressing pirates, and conducting diplomatic visits in support of commercial appeals. The Soviet Navy constructed various artificial islands for its own purposes, including as listening posts.

Criminal activity in the Soviet Union was known to be extensive, providing a living to an estimated eight or nine percent of Soviet citizens. Corruption was widespread due to political disaffection, especially over cronyism. Many officers sold military equipment to supplement their salaries, an acute problem among those deployed to foreign war zones. The Soviet government often used Russian organize crime as a front for intelligence operations.

The date and idea for the Russian moon landing are from the television show For All Mankind. Source for the moon landing art is unknown.

Quora user Alexander Ginnegan offers a fascinating list of Soviet scientific-technological achievements.

Picture of "East Berlin" is "777Jihad" by isleeyin on DeviantArt.

Picture of tractor is "Steam Crawler" by kceg on DeviantArt.

Picture of futuristic Moscow is "USSR 2.0" by ianllanas on DeviantArt.

The Quebec Independence War concept of false-flag attacks by a "Black Watch" unit is from Cold War Hot, ed. Peter G. Tsouras.
Marty Robbins said:
No one dared to ask his business / No one dared to make a slip / The stranger there among them / Had a big iron on his hip - Datalinks, Traditional

The Abbasov Institute of Automatic Information Processing in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, where the system architecture of the Unity computer core was first conceived.

Unity's computer systems followed the principles of mainframe computing, slaving many terminals to two high-reliability computational engines, a primary and a back-up. This also simplified standards selection for the hardware and software that could be contributed by mission donors. Mainframe Computing is a UNITY tech.

By special agreement with France, the mainframe ran three operating systems simultaneously, the shipwide standard (using Bharat Operating System Solutions, BOSS), a partitioned Minitel instance for user-to-user plain text communication, and a partitioned Soviet-sourced Kronos instance dedicated to the ship's fission plants.

Cold War tensions prevented emergence of a shared programming language, and the field of practical computer science was fragmented along national lines, with well-established English, French, Russian, Japanese, Indian, Esperanto, and Chinese branches.

The official mission language was English, and proficiency with that language was a requirement for crew selection prior to 2050, but non-English-speakers together formed a plurality of the crew. Non-intuitive keyboards hampered timely, accurate input for systems administrators and made text communication practically impossible for traditional life-safety responders.

Even within Data Services, only a small percentage of technicians could work proficiently with the French- and Soviet-made sub-systems. The Minitel system survived through efforts by the New State to establish a closed network, but Zakharov declined to use Kronos for his nodes on grounds that science required collaboration. Use of a Chironian Standard was a major plank of Council business for the Morganites and Data Angels.

The Children of the Atom experimented with trinary and quatrinary (quantum) machines not long after Planetfall but chose to use BOSS for most of their applications because of the difficulty of manufacturing new hardware in the colonial setting.

Unity's computing center prior to launch. Technicians are verifying correct operation of components.

The ship's secondary core was manually disconnected from the primary by a Data Services panic button moments after the mainframe control room was breached by mutineers.

The secondary core was physically absent from its housing twenty-five hours after the micrometeorite impact when Data Services teams organized by Sathieu Metrion reached the ship's data center to perform damage assessment. Two U.N. Security Forces officers lay dead of flechette wounds at the man trap.

Data Services personnel drain kinetic gel from cryotubes before bringing compatriots out of cold sleep during the evacuation of Hab Bay 4.

Computer scientists were prized targets for recovery, recruitment, capture, or elimination, depending upon one's ethical predisposition.

Colonist Morgan and Governor Van de Graaf organized retrievals based on lists of colonists with whom they had previously contracted for computing services. Directors Anhaldt, Pahlavi, and Cohen, and Assistant Director Metrion, moved to retrieve their respective staffs. After the mission's dissolution, Cohen and Pahlavi returned to claim as prisoners various others that has escaped their initial sweeps.

Data Services was not monolithic. Many of its personnel spent their careers seconded to other departments, rarely interacting with the leadership of their own. As a consequence, these forward-deployed Data Services members usually absorbed the cultural and political outlooks of their new environments wholesale. Seconded crew were therefore treated identically to the core members of any department they served for purposes of evacuation and faction alignment.

Abbasov Institute bears the name of former Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Mammad oglu Abbasov.

First image is "Futuristic city Moscow" by Pickgameru on DeviantArt.

Second image is the Astuter Computer Revue at Commicore at EPCOT in Walt Disney World during the 1980s.

Third image is Fate of the Vanguard BACK COVER by JonHrubesch on DeviantArt.
Had a request to know what project ideas got left on the cutting room floor. Glad to oblige.

The answer to that question properly begins with a short story. If you don't know about Nick Stipanovich's blog Paean to SMAC, you ought to go read it. A tour de force of literary critique by somebody who very clearly loves the game. One of the visitors was none other than Brian Reynolds himself. I took the opportunity of our chance encounter in the comments section to pose a question: were there any faction ideas for the original game that didn't make it over the finish line? To my amazement, Reynolds said there were not.

We'll take it by faction.

University of Planet - Not much pruned away here. At one point, Pahlavi and Anhaldt were actual or potential subordinates. Zakharov's fears for his own mortality are a relatively new addition. I can't recall where I encountered that concept. Perhaps in the GURPS material.

Gaia's Stepdaughters - What you see is essentially what you get. The particulars about her parents' divorce apparently come from the GURPS sourcebook. At one point, I debated giving her the title of "Speaker." In some earlier versions of the story, she was a native of Northern Ireland, not a Free Scotland. I pondered making the Hunters of Chiron a cadet faction of the Gaians at one point because of their shared attitudes toward conservation.

Human Hive - No big changes.

Morgan Industries - At certain points in the past I've been less well-disposed toward the name "Morgan Industries," which I viewed as too egotistical, until I decided that was the point. Their alternate name was "Dynamic Enterprise," which I sometimes still use. At times, van de Graaf was a partner that went rogue. Morgan Industries has become more villainous over time.

Spartan Federation - Their current militia is the Myrmidons, but in my early notes they are called the Phalanx. I've used the Hunters as a cadet for the Spartans, too, based on Marsh's attitude toward physical fitness. Old notes put Santiago's origins in Peru.

Peacekeeping Forces - Lal's personal history is case study in the dangers of pathological consensus-seeking, but the story of his governance is much more flattering because of how much space he makes for humility. I don't usually have much to say about the death of his wife. In versions of the story I have told elsewhere, Lal works hard to convert ex-Spartans to his cause. His chief antagonists are neither Spartans or Hivemen, but Charterists, because of the parallels to slavery.

Lord's Conclave - Elsewhere, I've called them Believers. Sometimes her appellation is "Prophet." She has at times originated in both the Christian States and the United States. In a very early version of the story, she was a straightforward Dominionist who simply wanted to destroy anyone that would not accept absorption into her religious community.

The New State - St. Germaine has been a nobleman from southern France, a Quebecois, and a Maronite Christian from Lebanon. His faction is a consolidation of two older versions, one with the same name, and the other called "The Beneath." The latter was a wholesale replacement for the Nautilus Pirates, with a much heavier lean toward environmental conservation that traced back to a belief that civilian on Earth had failed because they poisoned the oceans. In very early notes, their leader was the ship's Executive Officer, Francisco d'Almeida. Today, St. Germaine would probably qualify as an "illiberal democrat"--the kind of person who wants certain media suppressed, or certain people arrested, on grounds that they are damaging to the common good. The First Cut New State straightforwardly an implementation of feudal kingship. D'Almeida's original appellation was "Lord of the Manner." They used to start with a Foil, not a Pressure Hull (submarine).

New Two Thousand - Oscar van de Graaf has at times between a Native American, but in all other respects his story has been consistent. He was once "Conquistador," not "Empreassario." He had a Future Work called The Settlement Charter. For some inscrutable reason, I have a notation that they once started with a Unity Chopper.

The Tribe - Not much change. Sometimes, the notes seem to make out that Landers and his faction are villains--persecuted to the point that they live only for a bloody vengeance.

The Human Ascendancy - Pahlavi was sometimes raised in Switzerland, sometimes in Iran, with stronger or weaker association to the eponymous ruling dynasty. Pahlavi, like Cohen, has a history that links her to the ARC and the American Vault Program. This was part of an effort to give each of the leaders some prior history with one another. The Human Ascendancy has a sub-theme of gerontocracy and attempts to reverse the aging process.

Tomorrow Institute/Initiative - No major changes. They're incomplete themselves.

Children of the Atom - I've only recently begun building them out. A recent post dealt with their origins.

Hunters of Chiron - No major changes. At one point, Marsh was functionally a dinosaur hunter because there was a bigger link to Jurassic Park. He also did some work for Morgan Industries in one treatment, but that no longer fits his personality.

Dreamers of Chiron - The only major change is that the two faction leaders were once in a romantic relationship, but I discarded that, or at least didn't address it any further, as time went on because I didn't want to distract from the characters as individuals.

There were a number of other factions created over time. Tomorrow Rising was a "balancing" faction led by an Indonesian woman whose raison d'etre was to preserve a balance of power on Chiron. They eventually became the Memory of Earth.

I have some incomplete notes for a faction called the Archimedes Group led by an Indian prison commissioner, Sardul Singh. The concept was that they were trying to create a superior society through stage-managing every aspect of its physical surroundings, but the faction was too similar to the Human Hive.

At one point, the Holnists were "Tremaynists." Eventually, I just decided to have an overt homage to David Brin.

A University Scout Patrol investigates Unity wreckage not far from Academy Park. A sonic disruption emitter, visible in the foreground, provides a small measure of safety from mindworm attacks but is redundant at such high latitude. A shortage of hand weapons caused quartermasters to issue electroprods, devices intended for animal handling.

On the advice of his physicians, Chief Engineer Zakharov chose not to relocate from the unfavorable location where his landing pods first came down. There were too many sick to contemplate relocation.

The ice fields surrounding University Base were metal-rich, at least, and gave up their secrets without complaint. Core samples recovered by teams of University geologists yielded important insights about Planet's enigmatic grand seasons.

His scientists built their new civilization largely unmolested, spreading reading solars and xenomaterials labs among the snowbound foothills of the Orithyian Range. Crossing those mountains, they later came across the Upland Wastes to within sight of Sunny Mesa on the far horizon.

A Volvo powersled ferries relief crews to Agricultural Shelters 9 and 10 on the North Polar Shelf. Clocking speeds of over 300km/h, powersleds were frequently appropriated for joyrides.

Faction warders punished infractors aggressively to deter such behavior, which placed critical equipment--to say nothing of lives--at very great risk of injury. Repeated crop failures obliged Zakharov to keep a close watch on all growing operations, and rapid transport was at a premium.

Splendid cathedral cities rose along the Alexandros River in southwestern Shamash, a Hebrew word meaning servant. It was a recycled name, remembering the largest of the artificial landmasses in the IOEZ. Miriam avoided the city, which became a stronghold of zealots driven to frenzied fear by the close proximity of Pilgrim prospectors.

First image is "Scavenging" by Kawassass00 on DeviantArt.

Second image is "Ice Planet" by doms3 on DeviantArt.

Third image is "Athra" by Commonbymaru on DeviantArt.
Nwabudike Morgan said:
Convenience is what you want? Any closer and we'd be family. - Promotional material for MorganBazaar

If you could not go to the Morganites, they would come to you. Starting out from Golgu, their traders soon crossed the ocean to Shamash to present themselves--fearlessly--at every settlement they could find. When refused entry, they founded their own bases nearby and waited patiently for another audience.

This merchant, sketched on the Upper Slowwind, has a visor for the suns, a homemade re-breather for the nitrogen-heavy air, and makeshift body armor in case of attack by shredder pistol. A cudgel is his only weapon, suggesting business has not been good. In his last extremity, he may choose to sell his protective devices for their scrap value.

Hunters of the Pleiades Lodge returned to High Hide and Terra Nova with stories of root systems that branched for kilometers along valley floors, soaring to heights as much as fifteen meters. Their impressions, passed on to Deirdre Skye through Pilgrim prisoners taken in vendetta, informed Miriam's Theory of the Living Planet.

This Hunter survey team charts a course through the gloaming. For protection, the rearguard carries a rocket-propelled grenade launcher loaded with a high-explosive squash head munition--enough to crack the bark should the roots go into motion.

The Memory of Earth used Hoppers like this Kero Systems Wind Zipper utility craft to ferry settlers over intervening territories, straddling the Vertian Valley, where lay hidden the Four Cores, southernmost of the Children of the Atom's long string of bases, which ran the extent of the continent into the Orithyan and Sawtooth Mountains. Johann Anhaldt's people soon learned to fear Meractor's crack troops.

Wind Zippers had extremely limited passenger capacity but their hull-mounted waldoes were acceptable replacements for earthmoving machinery that could not be risked on overland routes. Brought from Earth to capture and mine rogue objects moving through the Alpha Centauri system, they instead became trapped in Planet's gravity well and served the remainder of their lives as sub-orbital transports.

First image is "Slaver" by Keithwormwood on DeviantArt.

Second image is "Erth621" by Elvisuall.

Third image is "Abduction" by GameLikeFire.
Unity Mission Landing Manual said:
Section 4.2.3a(12) - Emergency Communication. For all emergency transmissions, use radio channel 433.

Every part of Unity was made to be repurposed once the expedition arrived on Chiron, including the computer terminals installed in virtually all ship's compartments.

These were simple French- or Soviet-made boxes reliant on cathode ray tube technology, capable only of displaying text and making crude noises to announce system errors. Users that wanted to do more than talk to a hardwired mainframe needed a memory cart containing their program of choice, which they inserted in a central slot.

French models like the one shown here were ready for radio modem communication once on the ground. Signal-finding required manipulating the dials found on the right-hand side of the case.

One of the more useful pieces of diagnostic medical equipment available to early colonists was the 3KCAP X-ray gun. Fully-charged batteries guaranteed at least eighteen images.

Bad breaks were a constant threat in Chiron's high gravity well. The gun thus earned something of an unwarranted reputation as the harbinger of amputation (the first and last resort in Chiron operating theaters), and many colonists refused the dubious good fortune of its services.

The platform proved versatile enough to be converted to both non-medical civilian and military uses as a ground-effect scanner and a primitive, short-ranged weapon, respectively. At extreme settings, a single burst from an overloaded 3KCAP at 4 meters could inflict instant disorientation, followed within a day by bleeding gums, vomiting, headache, and fatigue.

High-powered point-to-point radio kept road crews, scientists, soldiers, and sailors in touch with Base Operations at their points of origin. No item other than the personal oxygenation system was more essential to life "outside the wire."

Unity carried a quarter-million two-way transceivers turned out by Turkish defense manufacturer ASELSAN and marked in English.

Sadly, the practical range of this equipment far exceeded the effective response time of most first responders, and the tinny cries for help on Frequency 433 were usually the bookend of a failed mission rather than the starting point for a successful rescue.

First image is "Fallout 4 - Retextured Terminals - 4K" by Ephla442 on DeviantArt.

Second image is "ЛП - 183" by Maxim Buyanov on ArtStation.

Third image is "Sci-Fi Device" by Rogelio Delgado on ArtStation, inspired by the work of Tony Zenitium.

Restorationist fighting vehicles approach a Tribal arcology, intent on its destruction.

Forgiveness was a discipline Mission Loyalists declined to practice.

There is no physical record to tell us what Pete Landers thought of the charges levied against him in the Planetary Council, nor any reason to believe he ever created one. Kellerites could hardly deny the great blow they had struck to the emergency response effort--a fatal one, perhaps, considering the severity of the Hypersurvivalist mutiny already underway.

Landers's cohorts were proud of their bloody work. At Cartersburg the device on their banner read "Nihil doleo," I sorrow over nothing. Unity was evidence of sin to the devoted Kellerite. What worse crime than to relinquish one's ties to family and community in favor of an enterprise that celebrated the anonymity of its members?

Tribal stockades and roundhouses hove close to one another at the mouth of the Slowwind. Expansion was slow, even grudging: there were few enough live births among Landers's people, and before the expulsion of the Spartans at Xerxion, no new colony could be conceived except in immediate peril.

Building skyward was expensive, but the heavy cannon installed in the uppermost levels had commanding range. The column seen here was routed after only a few hours' trouble despite the fighting skill of its members. The Minutemen took many prisoners for future exchange and recovered a platoon's worth of armored vehicles. Landers might have liked to match them against the notoriously mobile Spartans but for economic reasons they were stripped down and used as civilian tractors.

Unit operators at Morgan Monofill consider how to mitigate a burst cask of Shcherbinium 5, a Chironian chemical element and the most radioactive substance known to man.

Shcherbinium 5 was harmonically active at 45,000 Hz and repellent to xenofauna. Morgan Metals cultured the crystals to impregnate vehicle armors and building materials.

Morganite copywriters hailed Shcherbinium as the key to mastery of Chiron.

New State cadets perform routine inspections at Frontenac's Jaws, a military outpost in the Slowwind Delta. Unmanned submersible vehicles could have done the same work more safely and at lower cost, but the experience in pressure suits helped make canny marines of "St. Germaine's Boys."

Almost no problem underwater was a minor one. Sealurks were constantly fouling heat vents and cold water intakes. Shifting sediment blocked escape hatches. Sea creatures, including predators, thrived around pockets of waste heat and compost. Because oxygen scarcity encouraged deep-sea gigantism, pest control was warfare by another name.

First and second images are from the collection "Battlefield" by Daniel Romanovsky on ArtStation.

Third image is from the collection "Ballast powered descent vehicles" by Patrik Rosander on ArtStation.
Warden J.T. Marsh said:
Food is the soul's ammunition. - Peregrinations of Planet

Colonists were pleased to take shifts in community gardens where they received a percentage of all produce brought to harvest. Everywhere, the practice was the same.

Walking wounded like this New State tetra-commander of 17 Inshore Squadron performed light duty in greenhouses as part of their convalescent routines. Scientific illiterates searched for rot-sign and replace insect media.

Deciding what to grow in these shared spaces was a cherished prerogative of all base inhabitants--one of the few decisions granted scrupulous respect by faction leaders worldwide.

Herbs were most in demand, then fruit in the form of coffee cherries and citrus. Kellerites, Spartans, Pilgrims, and Morganites were scoffed at for growing tobacco, which they issued in lieu of coffee.

Commercial bio-engineering restored the endangered blue whale and vulnerable sperm whale populations on Earth to the levels of least-concern, and with them, revived the appeal of whaling.

Terrestrial species took to the waters of Chiron more readily than they did to other environments, and their meat was a reliable source of essential vitamins and proteins for flesh-starved settlers.

"Subpars" were small commercial establishments that traded in additives used to supplement standard rations. Depending upon the faction, customers might pay in cash (credits), goods, labor, network time, or council votes. They could also swap unwanted items in their meal kit for something more personally palatable.

Salt was popular but expensive. Most diners came for spices, especially pepper and garlic.

Subparts sidelined in sales of alcohol (most often grain alcohol, derived from surplus rationpak noodles). In the University, subpars installed Geiger counters so that patrons could account for safety considerations before any purchase.

First image is "space farm" by macarious on DeviantArt.

Second image is "Inside the Market" by METAPHOR9 on DeviantArt.

Third image is "Cyberpunk Tavern" by panprince on NightCafe. It was made with AI.

Technicians have mobilized from Lovelace Dome to staunch a coolant leak on a borehole mining rig. The angle of this image is fortuitous. A near piece of the Unity wreck passes low over the horizon beyond.

Alone on the eastern edge of the Uranium Flats, sensors at Lovelace Dome provided early warning for the faction's more established Vertian settlements nearer Shamash's western coast. Forward-deployed computers calculated probable vectors of attack and cabled them promptly to the Headquarters.

Pete Landers could not bite every hand outstretched in the spirit of cautious cooperation. By special agreement with Johann Anhaldt, two companies of Tribal militia were available to relieve pressure on the Four Cores.

The grenadier in this catch-vid is kitted out, for once, in a manner that makes it seem possible he may return alive. His accoutrements include a re-breather, laser-reflective helmet, ballistic vest, and grenades sourced from at least three separate militaries: spherical American, hive-shaped Yugoslav, and long-handled Gathi.

Once local armories had been stripped bare, museums were the next logical source of war-fighting equipment for the would-be militia. Kellerites were not to be excluded. This militiaman's tin hat and utility webbing predate him by at least 150 years, but there is less to complain about in his 96-model Stoner long-barrel light machine gun. A digital rangefinder will improve the weapon's already-murderous accuracy.

Barring the limitations of their undersized faction economy, Kellerites supplied their soldiers as well as they were able. This soldier is bundled against the upland cold and his pouches are full to overflowing with spare equipment and ammunition.

First image is "Repair-Team Color" by MackSztaba on DeviantArt.

Second image is "An hazmat soldier wearing full body armour and Black-Glass Gas Mask" by weepy-hyena73 on Prompt Hunt.

Third image is "Soldier 5" by ProxyGreen on DeviantArt.
Lady Dierdre Skye said:
This living world takes us for its own example. As we do unto Planet, so Planet will do unto us. - Planet Dreams

At seven, Dierdre Skye escaped her tutors to become lost in the moors. Home for school holidays, she fetched blankets and books to the battered women sheltering in the servant's quarters of Wainwright Downs. Some were scarcely a decade older than the impressionable seven-year-old herself.

Shailene Skye encouraged her daughter to learn the stories of others without disclosing her own. People needed symbols, she said, more than they did friends. The Lady Skye was more away in Edinburgh and Brussels than she was at home, tending the business of charity.

As an adult, Dierdre found she could take the part of others with little in the way of deeper knowledge about their circumstances. She held herself a leader--first to recognize oppression, first to contemplate action, first over the barricade. Her Earth liberation handlers knew her as credulous. This new recruit would throw a bomb or divulge trade secrets on the flimsiest suggestion that a righteous cause would be gratified. To her supervisors, Dierdre was a gifted botanist with regrettable fixations--an albatross they tolerated so as not to offend the influential mother, at least until the point she was jailed, providing adequate pretext for summary dismissal.

Dierdre's work straddled two worlds: she was trained to study a people-less past in furtherance of the future, but she spent her career trying to rewire a natural order upended by Man. The tension was exquisite. Dierdre felt the academy could not keep pace with the horrors of modernity--of war and industry, to be precise, and the scars they inflicted on the land.

Never lacking in physical courage, but blind to the privilege that spared her the full consequences of failure, Dierdre picked fights she had no hope of winning. Anyone in her proximity was potentially at risk of becoming a casualty. The U.N. overlooked that unfortunate business in America in favor of Dierdre's credentials. Her combination of skill and spirit seemed vaguely appropriate for a war zone. Recruiters hoped she might "prove resourceful" when matters inevitably deteriorated.

In Peshawar, with the radical mullahs against her and police leadership paralyzed by fear, Dierdre set aside the pleas of her own staff for conciliation with their oppressors. The female clerks stayed. The clinics and granaries remained open. Dierdre importuned the Northwest Frontier Force for more men and stronger guarantees. Jihadists murdered eight of Dierdre's people, maiming six more. Security forces were slow to investigate. Instead, they accused Dierdre of provoking the bombing. She had been warned many times what would happen if she insisted on defying prevailing customs.

Officially, the U.N. suspended Dierdre's operation for reasons of safety. Unofficially, she was blackballed for a second time--written off as a loose cannon without the reserves of patience necessary for her post. She retired to Wainwright and began to resume the acquaintances of a past life. Her "rehabilitation," culminating with accession to the Unity crew, was merely the happy accident of becoming a Nobel laureate.

Captain Jonathan Garland said:
Any believer in a prejudice will tell you plainly: it is a failing that is best when shared.

Dierdre's aggressive spirit showed itself immediately. Gaian raiders wasted no time falling on other factions in southern Shamash. They had their reasons. From Spartans and Kellerites, they wanted blood. Morganites were collectively to blame for the death of Captain Garland. Pilgrims and Dreamers were common thieves not entitled to the excuse of exigency. Anhaldt was the very face of the irresponsible science that had made it necessary to flee Earth. Pahlavi's geneticists were crypto-racists, Zakharov was a fool, and Miriam a geo-imperialist.

Skye's taste for the performative aspects of rulership led her to endorse physiolatry. Gaians leapt, danced, sang, and drugged themselves with untreated water. They celebrated the things they could see, touch, smell, and taste. They approached Chiron from a place of curiosity rather than opportunism, and in so doing learned more about its ecology than if they had rushed to kill and dissect.

Warden J.T. Marsh said:
The first great civilizations were sun worshipers. God first made light. We, a people of the sun, raised full generations underground, or wrapped in metal cocoons. But you're not really human if you've never felt the heat of sunlight on your upturned face. - The Lost World

Dierdre Skye is Morena Baccarin as seen on the StarGate franchise.
Factor Roshann Cobb said:
A king is just a banker who spends men in place of money, and usually with less distress. - The Puzzle Box

Alfred Siegfried was a successful trader in seal fur prior to winning election as Shiloh's first monarch in 2029. He took the regnal name Silas and adopted the surname Benjamin, claiming descent from the ancient Israelites.

The new king was driven to insolvency by his wooing for the crown and began pulling the levers of state patronage to reward the backers who had made him. Disaster followed promptly. Third-party auditors reported that the central reserve bank was keeping bad reports. The national university at Antioch, previously recognized for excellence in oceanography and the study of tropical disease, gained new proctors who promptly sold most of its $14 billion collections. After deep cost-cutting by the national airline, a passenger flight crashed into the sea just short of Durban, South Africa. All 220 souls aboard were lost.

Foreign investors panicked. Then a sargassum bloom appeared along Shiloh's west coast. Disputes in the crowded fisheries off the Selah Bight escalated to violence. After the abduction and brutal murder of two ethnic Chinese fishermen, Beijing sent a pair of destroyers that opened fire on a pair of factory ships owned by the Shilohne government as they departed the small harbor at Küv. The bombardment overshot and struck a fuel depot ashore. Both irreplaceable factory ships sank and some 582,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the sea caught fire.

Küv, Shiloh, c. 2029.

Attempts at economic stabilization came to nought. Shiloh had little arable land and almost no natural resources were accessible from the surface. Silas first contemplated seizing U.N. trust lands from the country's Sikh minority, but backtracked when police admitted they would be unable to enforce the measure if contested. Six expeditions to the lava fields of the Slaar Cone came together after the dynasty mortgaged its crown jewels and adopted World Christianity as the state religion (badly alienating its own multi-confessional subjects) but these, too, ended in disaster. The colonies were abandoned after disagreements with their benefactors, leaving behind $4 billion worth of scientific equipment that Benjamin's government lacked the means even to salvage. Dutch objections scotched negotiations with Geneva over a new space elevator. A visit from the American supercarrier USS Bob Dole (CVA-121) next convinced Silas to send the Soviet ambassador packing with polite rejection of his country's offer to rebuild Küv.

Penitence cults accepted environmentalists' warnings that mankind was actively dismantling Spaceship Earth, but were more concerned with the recovery of a working civil society. Some, like the one at Slaar, attempted the Radical Reconciliation proposed by theologian Miriam Godwinson, forming colonies of mixed allegiance: ex-Holnists joined Vaulters, Unionists, Evangelites, and even ex-Kellerites in "free living," away from what they considered the insidious influence of corporations and the vengeance-minded popular consensus of post-war America.

In Shiloh, the cultists were welcomed only by the crown. Local wellermen resented what they saw as a government preference for outsiders and refused contracts to supply the Slaar venture. Confessional colonization by penitents was already problematic because of their association with an international steering committee under the influence of an exegetical synod that, contrary to Godwinson's stated intentions, insisted upon specific readings of the Marian expansions to the Bible. This stifled the organic revelation that tended to emerge in the isolation of colonial settings and led to many colonies breaking with the committee, thus ending the critical financial relationships that made them possible.

Facing food riots and calls for his abdication, Benjamin accepted the advice of his senior general, Linus Abner, and authorized the invasion of Shiloh's northern neighbor, Gath, a country more than twice Shiloh's size, but with just one-sixth its population. On October 7, 2032, Shiloh advanced two small corps north, led by the crack 3 Motorcycle Battalion.

Gath was caught by surprise. Port Prosperity, the continent's largest metropolis (population 420,000), was isolated from the rest of Gath by an 808-meter massif. The border was undefended. Leading elements of the invasion force road cable cars in from the suburbs unmolested. The local commander, an ex-Canadian Allophone expelled from Free Québec and resettled in Gath by the U.N., was killed in a car wreck speeding to the barracks. His successor, a Major F.R. Bilev, was helicoptered into the city from a pleasure yacht where he'd spent the previous night. Arriving to general chaos, he attempted to enact his predecessor's battle plan, hinging a defense plan on the city's waterworks, only to find that radio and satellite communications were being jammed. With reports of catastrophic casualties, Bilev surrendered the remaining defenders--4,600 of them--in less than two days.

Port Prosperity was recaptured by Gathi forces in the war of 2038. The ruined tower left of center, an observatory built by the Soviets at U.N. invitation, was converted to a prison by Vesper Abaddon in 2039. Its upper tier was destroyed by the Truth and Reconciliation Government after Abaddon left office.

Victory in war provided Shiloh with only dubious benefits. Port Prosperity was quiescent, casualties had been blessedly light despite two years of figthing, and much of the Gathi arsenal, including a modern frigate, fell into the hands of Abner's Royal Army, limiting the possibility for effective partisan activity in Occupied Gath and strengthening the Shilohne military's hand in national politics. A car carrier was intercepted fleeing the fighting, and Abner was able to gift his king with 1,700 Dacia automobiles, soon redistributed among courtiers in Gilboa. On the other hand, most of Port Prosperity's resident industries were unavailable for expropriation or resale. These included large railway workshops owned by Imre-Meinertzhagen, modern port infrastructure belonging to a Danish consortium, a navy yard managed by Grumman Engineering, and steel mills run by a subsidiary of Indian giant Vedanta. Silas left them unmolested, expecting they would remit future taxes to him, but instead they paid no one. Both combatant nations were also heavily indebted to arms traders. Abner had brokered a number of deals with Morgan SafeHaven to keep his soldiers in ammunition and clothing. (Various African warlords and ex-rulers consequently ended up at Silas's court over the next few years, some as guests of the House of Benjamin awaiting Morgan's fulfilment of promises to return them to power, others as beneficiaries of his mercy after being deposed.)

Somewhere along the coast, Morganite Resolutions fighters celebrate a victory over Gathi National Guardsmen during the first year of Silas's conquest. The company did Shiloh no favors by providing the impressively heterogeneous arsenal seen here.

Less than five years after the victory that made him a household name worldwide, Silas Benjamin disappeared. Whether he was killed during the Gathi bombardment of Gilboa in 2040, or became a prisoner of his great enemy Vesper Abaddon, it is unlikely he survived to see Unity on her way. Yet his problematic legacy went with the colonists to Chiron. Even as nationalism fell increasingly out of favor, Silas and Vesper dueled in abstentia through a series of ghost-written essays that appeared on the Planetary Networks beginning in MY4. Many were later traced back to faction leaders themselves.

Foremost among Abaddon's defenders was Miriam Godwinson, who understood Abaddon's self-abnegation as a Pauline allegory with important ramifications about the capacity for lasting reconciliation in the absence of retribution. Colonel Corazón Santiago celebrated Abaddon and Benjamin as the ideals of the reluctant warrior--prepared to fight in the last extremity, but always as monarchs in the pursuit of better circumstances for their respective kingdoms. Morgan was thought to have spoken through intermediaries on behalf of clemency to avoid setting the precedent that leaders might be accountable for crimes to a court other than one of their own making.

Oscar van de Graaf admitted that he'd have liked to hang Silas Benjamin as both a murderer and a charlatan, but held out Abaddon as properly ruthless in his pursuit of peace through total victory. Foreman Domai and Dr. Johann Anhaldt wanted both leaders condemned for squandering what meager national resources they'd had at their disposal. J.T. Marsh struggled to find evidence of good on either side but allowed, like van de Graaf, that Abaddon's was the better claim to clemency as the party "first wronged." Factor Roshann Cobb confined himself to wry remarks on the fact that the human species seemed only to have two solutions for any problem, and both of them war.

Silas Benjamin was a main character in the 2009 NBC television show Kings. His part was played by Ian McShane. His general was Linus Abner.

"...and 20,000 tons of crude oil spilled into the sea caught fire," is a quote from a Clarke & Dawe skit, "The Front Fell Off." I've always loved that turn of phrase.

Walvis Bay, Namibia, stands in for Küv.

Slaar colony is "Ground work -Edge Colony" by Pablo Munoz Gomez on ArtStation.

Port Prosperity is Corto Maltese as seen in the Suicide Squad.

Our Morgan Resolutions mercenaries are cartel fighters in the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger.

Special thanks to the Internal Movie Firearms Database for the trove of relevant images.
Plotter Johann Anhaldt said:
Feeling is information: a reflection of lived experience, and ritual a means of accessing it. - Human Calculus

Kellerites transit the water obstacles at Defianceburg on Rumrunner's Cascade. This far north of the Slowwind Delta, Spartans are a rare sight, but defenders are on high alert for Ascendancy Legionnaires.

The Tribe and the Hunters began with the smallest populations on Planet. Just 254 Kellerite stowaways boarded Unity. Three perished in passage, victims of faulty wiring jobs to cryobeds of second-hand provenance, and another forty-two during the struggle for supplies and escape. Rather than chance their wounded with either the U.N. or Security Forces mutineers, Kellerites shot friendlies who could no longer give battle. Faction fighters took another twenty-seven prisoners along the way, keeping only the able-bodied--thirteen--as slaves.

Marsh gathered 750 of the Forward Contact Team at a promontory called the Scalpel to declaim his manifesto but retained just shy of 400 when the rovers broke up. Nagao's defection, requested in private, led to a row of four hours. It was all a severe blow for a man who fancied himself a gifted leader, especially by comparison with the more "professorial set" like "Zachy" and Garland. A bottle of mushroom liquor got the better of him for the next three days and the matter was thereafter closed to discussion.

The largest faction at landing was the Lord's Conclave, bloated with the injured and the dying, but food ran out quickly and many starved. Believers nonetheless took seriously the Lord's commandment to multiply, and by Mission Year 5 were against the most numerous people on Planet.

Nwabudike Morgan's appeal proved as broad as it was familiar, and for a time during Mission Year 1 and 2, as others foundered, his well-supplied, completely isolated faction was the largest by a wide margin.

Birth rates were very high among the Pilgrims and Believers whenever food was plentiful and the same was suspected of the Gaians and the Hive. Both the Hive and the early Spartans practiced forced breeding, though their populations were much reduced by constant warfare.

Birth rates were abnormally low within the University, the New State, the Ascendancy, the Dreaming, and the Children of the Atom. The scientists were sick, sterile, or disinterested in traditional family life. Beneath the waves, St. Ledger's people needed little prompting to procreate but established a lottery system out of prudence to avoid overtaxing available life support. For the genetic supremacists high in the mountains, new life was created only in the test tube, which meant slowly. Cobb's people were too traumatized to reproduce, some because they were drugged, others because they were unfree. Anhaldt's developed a collective anxiety with similar consequences.

Gaians tend hybrid crops in a weather-controlled stretch of the Nýksan where the atmosphere is tolerable for human lungs.

Fungal bells have been adapted as vessels for Terran soil. The bells provide considerable protection from the natural hazards that ruin harvests on Chiron, including curious subrids.

The Children of the Atom earned the derisive nickname "actuaries" for their obsession with analytical modeling of activities performed haphazardly by their peers.

CEO Nwabudike Morgan said:
The human settlement is a self-regulating system that eventually achieves through popular demand the self-same cleanliness, splendor, and calm that it is impossible to impose at the founding. - Notes on Value

First image discovered on Pinterest account of Tkachenko Zp, linking back to this Russian-language webpage.

Second image is "The Lonely Chull" by InvictaHistory on reddit (r/Cosmere).

Third image is "Mars" by CGCortex on ArtStation.
Prokhor Zakharov said:
Sentimentality is the greatest foe of the human species. We think only of today’s happiness and pleasure, never of tomorrow’s harvest. – Address to the United Nations

Prokhor Zakharov learns the fate of a missing ‘Former team.

A willingness to spend lives like rubles and lack of detectable conscience certainly greased Prokhor Zakharov’s rise through the hierarchy of Soviet academia, but his political patrons were most interested in him for another reason: he was a Cassandra who excelled at predicting catastrophe.

The first contraindications that Chiron was suitable for human habitation were obvious even before the expedition launched. Soviet, U.N., and Indian intelligence consulted Zakharov on telemetry gathered from the Chiron Interstellar Probe that reported significant changes in local ecology coterminous with the time of settlement—changes that were too extensive to have been caused by the colonists themselves. His calls for an international symposium on the matter were declined.

Zakharov also expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of Unity’s powerplant, complaining that the diameter and stoutness of the watermains were not adequate to supply emergency cooling—information that helped Moscow to prevail in arguments with the Secretary-General regarding the number of cryobeds set aside for Soviet passengers. Zakharov furthermore questioned the credentials of most of his senior shipmates, offering replacement lists of his own devising. Deirdre Skye, “overly emotional.” Pravin Lal and Johann Anhaldt, both “indifferent to methodological rigor” and “prone to inventing data.” Those he kept included Tamineh Pahlavi, who might bring “estimable realism” to her duties, and Aleigha Cohen, “a researcher of superior courage.” Zakharov’s low view of Lal tracked with that of the Soviet diplomatic corps, which regarded Mongkut and his inner circle as something like stooges to be pitied.

Ironically, despite his misgivings about fellow crew and his caution that the ship’s systems were “thoroughly unready” to meet the demands imposed by moderate-probability disaster, Zakharov was satisfied when invited to select a further three hundred nominees to the Engineering Division as a hedge.

Few villains had a more enduring presence in the popular imagination. Planetary datalinks polling, open to users of all factions, rarely placed Zakharov lower than fifth place in the list of proposed candidates for indictment by the Planetary Council for disobeying the orders of his captain.

A Morgan SafeHaven mercenary stands guard at a wellhouse somewhere in the Sahara. He has not disdained to use his weapon, a Dutch MG12, which bears the signs of long heat stress.

The relationship between Morgan Industries and the United Nations lasted more than four decades and marked a distinct departure from the century preceding. Until that time, peacekeeping missions were hamstrung by the vagaries of geopolitics. Successful interventions were possible only under the most exacting of circumstances: during periods of global economic vitality when donors were plentiful; outside the immediate spheres of influence of the Great Powers; continuing only if casualties were very light; and under dangerously cumbersome terms of engagement. The use of veteran, non-patriated mercenary soldiers provided muscle and coherence far beyond anything the U.N. had enjoyed since its founding. Conflicts could now be quashed within hours or days. High-tempo and special operations were no longer unthinkable. In March 2038, a SafeHaven strike team arrested South African Bureau of State Security General Charl Viljoens when his South African Airways Boeing 777 made an unscheduled fueling stop at Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, Nigeria enroute to Maison Blanche Airport in French Algiers. The general was convicted of crimes against humanity and later died in prison in Geneva awaiting sentencing.

A column of Morgan affiliate Jõhkrus paratroopers patrols a town in Greek Trebizond.

Drunk on its newfound efficacy, the U.N. found it convenient to accept certain unfortunate realities about its new partner with a stubborn and studied silence. Morganite contractors showed less discipline in camp than regular soldiers and followed no recognized rules of warfare. Nor was it unusual for Morgan to broker services to both sides of a conflict. U.N. auditors complained that Morgan was an obvious self-dealer, pouring gasoline on the same fires he was paid to fight. The U.N.’s increased independence also troubled what had been its greatest sources of general funding and military contributions. The West withdrew. So did developing countries that counted themselves victims of Morgan’s business practices. Thus, there were no good options when Morgan refused to accept assignments.

Independent aircraft operators like Scorpio Battlefield Logistics were cheap… and vulnerable to interception.

The U.N. was also inevitably dragged unwilling into Morgan’s great feuds—with the Americans from the 2040s, and with other mega-corporations from roughly the same time. American naval air strikes against Morganite facilities and paramilitary forces worldwide inflicted hundreds of collateral casualties among U.N. staff.

Morgan’s adversaries lined up to take him on. Here, fighters provided by Stoker-Beltan affiliate Tàiyáng fān (太阳帆) are seen during the Battle of Taipei during the opening hours of the Golden Revolution. An anti-tank team has just finished clearing a roadblock held by Morgan Strongpoint.

Morganites were “fair game” for Kellerite and Pilgrim settlers. So severe was the automatic aggression that Oscar van de Graaf remonstrated with his expedition to use methods of killing that would at least preserve the goods carried by Morganite traders. Pete Landers was more accepting: the heads of Morganites were readily displayed on the defenses of Keller City alongside those of Spartans and Pilgrims.


First image is Stellan Skarsgård as Luthen Rael in Andor.

Source of the second image is unknown. Found on Google after a search for “rebel marine rogue one” and clicking about on related images. Appears to be a cosplayer.

Third image is “Midjourney 4983” by Javiet-Lluesma on DeviantArt.

Fourth image is “Nod Cargo plane” by Madin for the mod “Command & Conquer: Tiberian History” found on

Fifth image is “Battle fo Taipei, 2021” by Aisxos on DeviantArt.
Contre-amirale Raoul André St. Germaine said:
If I am to be subject to a tyrant, let him also be the better man. – Personal Diaries

Gathi general Oreb does homage to King Silas Benjamin, right, following Gath’s defeat in October 2034.

Powerfully discredited by the experience of the Great War, governing monarchies vanished from the Western world for nearly a century-and-a-half. Where they endured in Africa and Asia, ruling dynasties usually traced their roots back to soldiers—traditional “big men” (and they were always men) whose claims on power were better legitimized by the armies at their backs rather than the blood running through their veins.

Kingship as an institution was revived on Earth by refugee communities in the Indian Ocean Exclusion Zone, and although violence continued to play a role in the consolidation and perpetuation of their power, the monarchs of the Big E-Z often legitimated themselves by appeals to merit.

By 2040, the fruitful marriage of genetic engineering and social psych was in its second decade. With the help of supercomputers, bioengineering firms like the Planitzer Group and Replicodon Tactical Genomes (later purchased by the American Reclamation Corporation) were growing what geneticist Dr. Sarnam Grunta called “a new human architecture”—people with the genetic prerequisites to live 120 active years, compete at the level of Olympians, resist most diseases, and respond positively to most drug combinations. Raised in social laboratories, they were afforded every opportunity to achieve an early social and intellectual flowering, and most tested above genius levels, with an average IQ measured at 162, shifting the traditional the bell curve distribution leftward. So-called “Planitzer Perfects” were paid large bounties to enter corporate and government service. They swelled the ranks of the U.N. Mission to Alpha Centauri whenever meritocratic selection was favored over other avenues of accession. In time, genomic medicine, nootropic drugs, and cognitive conditioning provided opportunities even for those born under “less auspicious” circumstances to “better themselves” in the quest for Perfection.

Critics such as faith leader Miriam Godwinson, lay preacher Jean-Baptiste Keller, and noted public science interlocutor Dr. Johann Anhaldt charged that Perfects were part of what Godwinson herself called “a pronounced crisis of self-doubt in the human race.” There was something inhuman, they said, about trying to beat the odds and reverse-engineer the Miracle of Life.

Perfects engendered significant jealousy. “Authentic” geniuses such as Soviet physicist Prokhor Zakharov were at pains to present themselves as “self-made” men even when the circumstances of their upbringings closely mirrored Grunta’s formulae for successful child-rearing. Many believed that Perfects were victims of mental conditioning. Survivalist Corazón Santiago warned her Datalinks readers that Perfects formed a Fifth Column poised to overthrow governments. In her private correspondence with the Struan’s Board of Directors, Aleigha Cohen suggested that it would have been a “serious dereliction” for Grunta and his financiers to have avoided such an obvious and lucrative application for their creations.

Yet for others, Perfects were a legitimate answer to the loss of human capital caused by the calamities of the early and mid-twenty-first century. In the Big E-Z, Perfects were heroes of labor. They were also a cheaper alternative to supercomputers for groups interested in jump-starting independent governments with the capacity to deliver social goods. The first new monarchs of the twenty-first century were elected by the people of the islets, platforms, and floating cities they served. The House of Benjamin, which eventually governed in Shiloh, was founded by a Perfect.

As symbols tied intimately to the performance of state power, the conservation of traditional values, and the distribution of largess, pretenders to monarchy have been the focal point for political intrigue since time immemorial. In the 2030s, French Unionists rode back into power on a wave of popular backlash against industrial and government automation. They offered instead the promise of policy stability and cultural continuity embodied in the restored House of Bonaparte.

Champions of the “new monarchy” included French military officer Raoul André St. Germaine; mogul Nwabudike Morgan, who announced in 2050 that company historians had confirmed his matrilineal connection to the Ondonga kings of Ovamboland; and geneticist Tamineh Pahlavi. Proponents of kingship laid out a familiar case against democracy: that it produced tyrannies no less severe because popular, that its leaders were taught thereby to be fickle, and that only a person bred to the role should be entrusted with the awesome authority to act on behalf of the body politic. Like many colonial soldiers, St. Germaine bemoaned the large gulfs between what Frenchmen claimed to want and what they were willing to endure to get it. He felt that a monarchy, properly clothed in law, would also break the power of the media to stir up faction since such a system would admit no viable alternative to the present ruler.

Occupied territories were hothouses for coups d’etat. Colonial officials, military officers, and corporate satraps grew accustomed to the intoxicating combination of authority and independence that only national emergencies or interplanetary distance could provide. Here, ex-Foreign Legionnaires greet a reporter at a rubber plantation outside Vientaine, but the same scenes played out in Portuguese Brazil, Occupation South Carolina, and throughout the Asteroid Belt.

First image is from the NBC television show Kings. The House of Benjamin is the ruling dynasty in Shiloh, a fictional kingdom that was the setting for Kings.

Second image is from Apocalypse Now: Redux.

Perfects are discussed on p. 94 of Jon F. Zeigler’s GURPS treatment of Alpha Centauri, published by Steve Jackson Games.

Replicodon Tactical Genomes is a company created for the board game Terraforming Mars, published by FryxGames.
Electrician's Mate Sedgel Meertens said:
The human alone seeks to explain his existence beyond survival for the purpose of reproduction. I say, the purpose was known to us even in ancient times: to be of some good use to our fellows.

Sedgel Meertens, "Kiting" Kellerite, following the bombing at the Wells of Moriah.

Their reputation preceding them, Kellerites did no recruiting aboard Unity and little on the ground thereafter. Two early experiments to absorb survivors pulled from nearby Colony Pods yielded mixed results in Keller City: most were amenable enough to the faction's frontier communalism--an almost obvious remedy to the grand emergency that was Planetfall--but lack of affinity toward their new saviors exacerbated the million dangers and indignities of life under siege. Hoping in vain to build a better reputation with his neighbors, the colony's selectman, Pete Landers, permitted over half the newcomers to depart the base when Santiago withdrew her forces. This left natural births as the only significant source of new colonists before M.Y. 10, a slow and expensive method of population replacement even before considering the very high rates of injury and death prevalent on Chiron.

Little did Landers know at the time that his was not the only Kellerite enclave to make the Crossing from Earth. Like other Millenarian movements, Kellerism sank its deepest and strongest roots wherever traditional sources of social goods--civil order, living wages, and cultural continuity--were most at-risk. By 2050, much of Northwestern Europe was underwater. What remained of Dry Belgium came into French hands following a Walloon uprising. The parents of Sedgel Meertens, both university professors, threw themselves into municipal organizing as an answer to foreign imperialism. Their ninth natural child, a son, was born that same year in a caravan in the enclave of Saint-Remy along the border with France.

Sedgel's people followed the familiar Kellerite formula: kitchen gardens, home workshops, community clinics, and target practice. Meertens was instructed in falconry, soldering, diving, and boat-building according to a community curriculum that attempted to reposit a diversity of skillsets within each family group. In its last, desperate hours, the failing Belgian government recognized the Kellerites as willing allies and managed to distribute enough weapons to harden these communities against raids by Walloon irregulars. French authorities moved conservatively: the French military secured key industries and natural resources and delivered assistance to friendly populations but otherwise left the dissenters unmolested.

In this way, Kellerism achieved new heights of intellectual integrity. The Meertens raised Sedgel in the prescribed manner. He kept a well-annotated Bible and discussed his conclusions with a Worship Circle around his own age. Along with that cohort, he performed acts of service in the community as a testament to his faith. Beginning at age fifteen, he stood watch on the town walls and filled sandbags when it rained. Sedgel was blooded young, but no warrior, a participant in occassional skirmishes with Walloons and Frenchmen that inflicted few casualties and were treated as incidental matters by both sides.

Belgian Kellerism was heavily antiquated in its stylings: the enclave lived entirely by the artifice of its own hands, disconnected from the outside world, which provided only the occasional piece of salvage or the odd, transient visitor who might as well have come from the Moon. American Kellerites, like the Evangelical tradition from which they grew, fought to draw their members away from the seductive embrace of the World Wide Web and corporate serfdom. But in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, Kellerism was the refuge of people already determined to wall themselves in.

Over time, global Kellerites did become conscious of the American Kellerite tradition and plight. Although it cut contrary to the ideals of the movement's founder, who insisted that communities would find strength from commonality of place rather than of belief, European Kellerites were enthusiastic to build linkages with others who practiced their modes of living. Many were drawn to volunteer for missions in the United States and Canada, earning the label "kiteists" for the way that "blew in from across the Atlantic." As outsiders to the North American civil wars, foreign Kellerites were astonished by its ferocity to the point that many experienced a crusading zeal.

Until his dying day, Jean-Baptiste Keller considered himself an American citizen. His was a "Lost United States," neither that of the Hypersurvivalists nor of the Federal Government that increasingly transformed itself into something unrecognizable so as to better fight the war it had been unable to avoid. Sedgel and his ilk were also nationalists in their own way--"Belgians by refusal," even if their way of life was dictated by an American pamphlet. In letters to the United Nations in Geneva, they made their case for inclusion in the Unity Project as the last living links to a proud legacy. Over strident French objections, they succeeded.

It was the U.N.'s practice to diversity billets so as to avoid over-saturating particular operating divisions with too many crew of the same national origin, but the Kellerites tampered with official records to circumvent these restrictions, intending that their community be preserved after Planetfall.

Meertens trained as an electrician's mate to repair communications as part of Jeremy Tanner Marsh's Forward Contact Team. He landed with these crews, ahead of the main expedition, serving as radio operator aboard a 'Former, and was no longer at pains to conceal his beliefs. Upon learning of Unity's destruction, Meertens and several dozen other Belgian Kellerites were detained briefly on Marsh's orders out of suspicion that they might act in concert with the stowaways. Although later released, the parolees quit Marsh's service and made the long trek to Keller City with their share of supplies in tow where they were greeted with astonishment by the Selectman himself.

The addition of the young Meertens, now a leader among his own cohort, reinforced certain Luddite and confessional tendencies within the broader faction. Meertens had imbibed some of Marsh's suspicion of robotics as a threat to the retention of learned survival skills and saw the ethical content of Scripture as a social glue that set the Tribe apart from other communities of human survivors less inclined toward religiosity. Meertens also called for a more democratic government, demanding that Landers put more decisions to a popular vote and questioning why personal affiliation with the movement's founder should be considered a qualification for faction leadership.

Faith attracted Meertens to the Conclave, and he was eventually made Landers's ambassador plenipotentiary to Miriam Godwinson's court at New Jerusalem. Meertens was present during a baptism at the Wells of Moriah when a University student set off a bomb intended for the Sister. Medical adhesives saved Meerten's life but left him permanently disfigured.

Image is "Mikhail" by GerryArthur on DeviantArt.

Morgan Sunspark, two megacycles after a New State raiding party laid the island to waste during an executive retreat.

Many and diverse hands were raised against the Morganites once the Data Jazz revealed their CEO's pact with the Shapers of Chiron.

Morgan Industries never established a true standing army; instead, the faction relied on mercenary companies headquartered within its territory but kept sharp through work for other factions, leading at times to a derth of domestic military resources.

Realizing that the Shaper agenda would be tantamount to a declaration of war on other factions, both Morgan and Nagao temporarily suspended offensive operations for more than two years beginning in M.Y. 14 and began setting aside resources for extended conflict on multiple fronts--against both neighbors and the planet itself. Here, in the bowels of a Landing Pod well-stocked with old hand weapons, a Green Team shock trooper readies for combat with the assistance of a squadmate.

Shaper Liquidator in a Chevrolet-Monarch Consolidated Powered Combat Suit, series 312, a fire-******ent, heat-shielded evolution of the older Firebat model. The hand rifle, made by a local workshop, lobs incendiary shells. This soldier will be detailed to combat incrusions by native boils.

CMC-312s were not part of the U.N.'s consignment of security equipment and therefore would have been loot from the corporate reservation of mission stores. Beyond its considerable toughness, the suit was designed to take advantage of the latest advances in battlefield medicine. The wounded operator could expect recieve direct plasma feeds, supplementary oxygen, and nerve blocks (also called pain shunts). This last innovation was a Janus-faced blessing since a soldier heedless of pain signals could unknowingly grieve their wound.

Glass-domed trams ferry visitors to the second Shaper capital at Earthsong.

Extensive use of this scenic transportation method effectively communicated the faction's supremacy over Centauri ecology while also allowing base security to surveil potential threats long before they approached sensitive infrastructure.

Purists flocked to Earthsong the way diplomats and spies did to Believer-controlled Longhouse: it was an opportunity to experience something almost familiar.

Supremacists were less taken in by the falsehood that Nagao and his acolytes perpetrated but marveled nonetheless at its artifice, though Zakharov acidly pointed out that none of the animals and plants on display could--or ever would--behave in a distinctively "Terran" fashion.

For spies, the Shapers' proud reintroduction of extinct Terran organisms was evidence that Nagao had been in contact with Tamineh Pahlavi, and confirmation of her rumored theft of the mission's genetic databanks.

Dead mindworm husks in suspension at the People's Teeming.

Broodlords were made among the Gaians by often-fatal walkabout. Early candidates were always drugged at the outset to overcome their inhibitions.

Before the invention of Plasma Steel, mindworms could not be contained--only killed, avoided, or soothed. Chairman Sheng-ji Yang was first to realize that a mindworm would not burrow through native plant matter.

The first Thinkers among them were made when hand-picked candidates were imprisoned in cells adjacent to pit traps occupied by live boils. The sides of these pit traps were thick with Chironian vegetation. Quite safe from physical attack but separated by just a few feet of soil or porous rock, the sacrifices received the full brunt of the worms' psychoactivity for hours on end. Most went mad. But not all.

Post-exposure analysis showed high rates of brain function in portions of the organ previously dormant. Survivors demonstrated near-perfect recall, heightened feats of audio and visual perception, and vastly enhanced aptitude in spatial reasoning and mathematics.

First image is "777Jihad" by isleeyin on DeviantArt.

Second image is "Gmod | Juggernaut Prep" by OlmateUbafest on DeviantArt.

Third image is "Shock trooper" by Asahisuperdry on DeviantArt. CMC combat suits are worn by Marines in the StarCraft series of computer games. Pain shunts are a BattleTech technology.

Fourth image is "Silent city" by emilysart on DeviantArt.

Fifth image is "Species A" by jbrown67 in DeviantArt.
Oscar van de Graaf said:
They make superb transport, excellent eating, and reliable early warning systems for everything from weather to gas leaks. Given time and gyroscopes, I estimate they will also make worthy gun carriages. - Plowman's Paradise

Peacekeepers were first to exploit the fecundity of the subrid's carapace for agricultural purposes, positioning nature to achieve what their tiny industrial base could not.

The only thing sweeter than a subrid's meat was its disposition. Violent encounters with the species were usually the the result of misunderstanding, not predation.

Lady Deirdre Skye said:
Planet is wise to the intruder. Humanity and its artifacts are magnets to local fauna. Every member of the First Generation remembers a time when they could sleep on an empty camp but wake up to a throng of subrids so thick, it was possible to walk a mile without touching soil. - Planet Dreams

Subrids soon became unwitting pawns in the vendettas between factions. Pilgrim ranchers stampeded herds of the ungainly beasts through the tent camps of unwary trespassers in the dark of night. Three hundred Morganites died in agony after subrids cultivated with fungal spores wandered across the Gaian frontier to collect at the ground seeps around Crazy Igor's Cash-N-Carry. Hive patrollers learned to emulate the burrowing behavior of the dry land subspecies to burst with their mounts from the sands. In M.Y. 38, the Planetary Council authorized and funded the Chiron Transhumant Police, a seasonal gendarme staffed mostly by Hunters. The agency was charged with reducing inter-faction violence during the "petite" migratory periods between changes in season but spent its seventeen-year history locked in a continuous shooting war with Pilgrim snail-punchers and Spartan rustlers.

All factions with access to temperate, tropical, and arid climate zones raised subrids for food. Hunters, Tribals, and Spartans learned subrid handling as a survival discipline. Pilgrims counted subrids as personalty. The Governor often rewarded his retainers with choice specimens cut out from his crawls. Morganites speculated on subrid futures; Oracletians sold predictive analysis of future spawning behavior. High up in their mountain fastness, the University and Ascendancy marveled at the enduring draw of horse cultures on the human imagination.

The Dreamers were notorious for vicious experiments with subrids. Roshann Cobb was enthralled by the creature's uniquely open to a symbiotic relationship with humans and developed the theory that subrids were attuned to Planetary harmonics. To this end, he arranged for vivisections that yielded insights he never shared.

Superior biological testing station. University of Planet. Monsoon Jungle. Shamash.

Neo-Spartan Battle Master deploys a parasite hovertank during a collection of planet pearls. Red Wastes. Golgu.

Morgan Security Services casecar awaits a shift change in a worker's block of The Crack, better known as Warrentown 55-6.

Overhead, pirate wires connect rogue 'jacks to the faction datalinks. Hunter-seeker algorithms will eventually find their way "downstring" to present the offender with a recurring fine for unauthorized service.

Armored Myrmidons of Sparta take advantage of a whiteout to withdraw following a successful raid on the Helix, plundered network node in hand.

The second trooper wields a graviton splitter, courtesy of the University of Planet, with which the spoils of victory will soon be shared.

Behind them, a disabled Ascendancy
shagokhod pays silent testimony to the martial prowess of these mechanized supersoldiers--a match, for once, against Pahlavi's test tube tyrants.

First image is "Zaiya Ikowuro: Volume III - Wild Outpost (Evale)" by GratefulReflex on DeviantArt.

Second image is "RC-24 Design System: Vehicle Builder" by GratefulReflux on DeviantArt.

Third image is "Quarantine Patrol" by saralgam1980 at DeviantArt.

Fourth image is "Tears of distant sun" by ukitakumuki on DeviantArt.
Annunciator Sathieu Metrion said:
Man without history is a loaded pistol pointed at the wrong target. - Timelines

Name: Sathieu Metrion
Rank: Ensign
Position: Senior Archivist
Country of Origin: Thailand
Date of Birth: 06-06-2031
Height: 170.18 cm
Weight: 72.6 kg

Service Record:
Born in Chiang Tung, United Former Thai Territories, Thai-occupied Shan State. Mother, a librarian supporting "cultural conservation" of the area's Thai legacy. Educated at boarding schools in Bangkok after security situation in home province deteriorated. Contact with parents thereafter limited to written correspondence until their deaths.

Exemplary A-NET scores led to secondary screenings by Buenos Aires-based Tomorrow Institute under the Global Human Resource Project, a collaboration with various governments to identify future candidates for national leadership roles. Graduated Royal Thai Naval Academy. Posted to inshore patrol, primarily combating traffic in plundered antiquities. Initially disliked by subordinates for imposing additional training and education requirements at the expense of their recreation. Subject eventually won their loyalty, and popular acclaim, commanding several victories against trans-national criminal, corporate, and French Union incursions through Thai waters.

Studied data science at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Temporarily assigned to Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency for SEATO's Fourth Earth-Io Mission aboard the Hayyānu, an orbital surveyor operated by the Trans-Neptunian Development Corporation. Crew claim to have discovered previously-unsuspected deposits of water ice, but the ship's data payload was corrupted and life support compromised by an infiltrator traced through Interpol to servers at the University of Trinidad. Subject later inducted into the Honorable Order of Rama for rapid restoration of central computer functionality despite severe injuries from cold, saving the lives of everyone aboard. Amputation of subject's left hand was mitigated by cybernetic replacement, leading to a long period of rehabilitation that included medically-supervised Dreaming.

Meritorious appointment to the U.N. Mission to Alpha Centauri with Thai national contingent, 2066. Entered Data Services under Lt. Cmdr. Tạ Dọc Thân. During mission training, subject participated in the so-called Frankenstein Debates, a series of networked meta-conversations about the likelihood that humans would inadvertently create a hostile artificial intelligence. With Thân, subject posited that the risk of such an outcome existed in proportion to the number of modifications to original software code. This was the beginning of the "disk obedience" movement in software engineering.

In 2070, subject led interplanetary evaluation team tasked with identifying the most-important areas of human knowledge for preservation in the Unity Data Core. The final report urged U.N. planners to devote more disk space to cultural products, arguing that these were less independently reproducable than practical information such as manuals on small unit tactics and remote imaging of Chiron's moons.

Awakened during Unity Crisis. Delivered most Atomic Energy Lab staff, including their director, Dr. Johann Anhaldt, from cold sleep before joining the larger body of Data Services responders in the Data Core. Participated in initial system impact assessments and remote damage control operations.

As conditions deteriorated, Thân countermanded the orders of Captain Garland and Executive Officer D'Almeida in order to prioritize support for Chief Engineer Zakharov's reactor repairs, leading to a brief confrontation between the two men. Subject was ordered out of the Data Core 36 minutes before its ejection, during which Thân was killed.

Subject gathered Data Services survivors, declaring his intention to follow Thân's plan of preserving "this fund of human knowledge--our sacred trust." En route to hangar bays, Data Services personnel recruited disorganized survivors of other divisions, including U.N. Security Forces wounded, structural engineers previously dispatched forward by Zakharov, damage control parties isolated by failsafes, and contractors of Comprehensive Transport, the quasi-governmental body responsible for regulation of space travel throughout the Sol System. They ultimately commandeered two Landing Pods.

Colonists under Metrion's supervision were first to interact with survivors of the preceding Chiron Interstellar Probe, from whom they contracted Red Flu, triggering draconian quarantine protocols to stem serious losses.

Psych Profile: Sentimentalist
Mission Psych Battery confirms observations by past superiors of surliness and persistent failure to build trusting relationships. Subject also suffers from moderate depression. Strong interest in mementos and memory recovery reflects longing for an idealized past.

Peer interviews demonstrate subject was widely understood to disapprove of Thân's leadership style. Private remembrances, accessed through random audit, indicate subject found Thân "preening."

Thân meanwhile characterized subject as "bookish" and "emotionally immature" and repeatedly withheld promotion in filings endorsed by Political Officer Sheng-ji Yang.

The partially-organized contents of just a single secondary drive of the Unity Data Core had the same footprint as a city of more than 120km². In this secvid view of Dewey's Divide, a commuter tram awaits visiting researchers, planetary archivists, and the odd data custodian.

First image is "Cyberpunk portrait of man as cyborg, sci fi concept art, dramatic, artstation trending, highly detailed," created on Lexica by an unknown author.

Second image is part of the portfolio "777Jihad" by isleeyin on DeviantArt.

Hive kiterunner confirms the destruction of a Restoration crawler after catastrophic loss of payload containment. Yang's salvage teams will mobilize at once.

This scout's personal transport is the Volvo
trollslända, one of the most popular commercial sport vehicles on Earth in 2071.

Made famous a decade earlier by professional racer Su Jin-Che on the Cape Town-Khartoum-El Aaiún Run, the hoverbike was purpose-designed for that grueling, deadly event, combining blistering speed with mechanical simplicity.

trollslända was nothing but carbon-fiber frame, solar power plant, heads-up display, and underslung, rear-loaded tool chest. Su and other trollslända operators trained as much to endure the extreme discomfort of long operation as to become adept at bike-handling and used painkillers to stay mounted.

Like Su, Chironian
trollslända riders reckoned that the bike's best safety feature was its sheer ease of repair.

Perimeter minefields were just one of the many "hard work incentives" provided by Morgan Industries to all team members.

Morgan Security conducted visual inspections of the minefield whenever executives were inbound (as on the highship in the background), plugging the many craters that were formed each cycle.

The bipedal Multiple Use Labor Elements seen here take advantage of Chiron's nitrate yield as a cheap source of motive power.

On Factory Floor W-H-1 at Morgan Manufactures. This crawler chassis is in the middle stages of assembly.

Still garbed in their old uniform colors, former Data Services personnel are making final adjustments to firmware.

First image is "Harvester" by cyberkite on DeviantArt.

Second image is "Terraformer 2" by cyberkite on DeviantArt.

Third image is "Assembly" by cyberkite on DeviantArt.
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