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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

stnylan

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And so Lady Gaia shows herself to be very human after all.

The fault is in our very DNA.
 
Little Autumn With The Geese, 2234 - 2238

Cora Giantkiller

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Little Autumn With The Geese
2234 - 2238


“And the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.’”
The Conclave Bible, Datalinks

The elevation of Aoife Deaca brought a period of stability to Deidre’s government. Many became convinced that the government could be reformed from within, to become responsive to the public. Deaca herself was an effective spokesperson for this message, at first. The Sisterhood had political space to make deeper and more lasting institutional reforms. Much would be different if they had done so. Instead, the government enjoyed what Gaian historians call the fómhar beag na ngéanna (lit. “little autumn with the geese”, i.e., Indian summer) before the legitimacy crisis began again in earnest.

As has been mentioned, politics among the Sisterhood functioned more like a royal court than like a democratic polity. Power did not flow from constitutional authority or democratic mandate; power was rooted in the charisma of the Lady herself. The closer one was to the Lady, the more powerful they were. As Governor of Gaia’s Landing, Siann Leina had few formal powers. She was formidable because she had a regular lunch with Deidre Skye.

When Leina would propose initiatives to the rest of the Sisterhood, few knew if she was speaking on her own behalf or floating a trial balloon for Deidre. Lady Deidre would typically watch impassively while different Sisters argued over a proposal, waiting until the confrontations and the intrigues were over before offering the final word. She did not always endorse the most popular position, but she had developed an acute sense of what the Sisterhood would be able to live with.

The Sisterhood functioned as well as it did because they were a small self-selected elite with a sense of collective identity. When an outsider like Aoife Deaca took her seat at the table, things began to break down. Many of the Sisters resented her presence, and made no secret of it. Deaca quickly learned to return their hostility. So long as Lady Deidre was intent on bridging this gap, she could paper over the divide and the government would hold together.



It was during this hopeful, fragile time that the matter of the Ngodoans broke back into public consciousness. Governor Leina’s cultural imperialism project had accomplished quite a bit by the 2230s. Gaian xenologists had identified older Ngodoan folk beliefs, revolving around the harvest cycle, that could be syncretized with the Wheel of the Year. The goal, as one researcher quipped, was to make sure that nobody needed to learn Gaelic. This syncretic faith was then fed back to the Ngodoans through a series of ‘prophetic visions’, encouraged with the strategic use of psychedelics.

The xenologists had expected this new/old pagan faith to grow a small loyal following that could be nurtured and cultivated over a period of decades. But the Ngodoans had just been through a bloody global conflict, with tens of millions dead, and were receptive to old folk wisdom about living in harmony with each other and with the planet’s rhythms. People converted in droves. As the pagan revival spread, the Gaians risked first contact. A Gaian priestess arrived to meet with religious leaders on Beta Coeli II, to great excitement. At a public Imbolc ceremony in 2221, she promised the faithful that peace and prosperity and the heavens themselves would be theirs for the taking if they believed. This caused a great sensation, and only spread the faith further.

It hardly needs to be said, however, that being very devout is not the same thing as being a fool. Once the Ngodoans learned of the arrival of strange visitors from other worlds, they began to ask themselves what exactly these strangers were hoping to achieve. Ironically, the most devout Ngodoans were often the most cynical about humans, because they had sufficient experience to find them evasive and manipulative.

One early convert, Goli den Fum, became particularly adept at manipulating the Gaian desire to convert. He successfully argued that the Ngodoan elders should also be permitted access to advanced technology, so that they could heal the sick and show wonders to the public. Having established regular shipments from the Gaian fleet, den Fum then executed a swift and brutal leadership purge. A series of ‘heresy trials’ provided a theological basis for den Fum’s autocratic rule over the Ngodoan faithful, which was now more powerful and more advanced than any other nation on Beta Coeli II. He dared the Gaians to start a proxy war against their own client ruler, betting (correctly) that they would not have the stomach for it.



On November 22, 2236, a whistleblower uploaded mission logs from Beta Coeli II onto the public datalinks, prompting outrage. Few in the public were aware how much the mission had changed, and the notion of spreading spiritual truths was far more attractive to the Gaians than the sordid business of propping up a would-be dictator. Also, there were strong reasons to believe that the new round of protests would be larger and better organized than before. Several of the student radicals who had led opposition to the Ngodoan project in the first place were now prominently placed in the political media or on the staff of Aoife Deaca. Deaca herself was too young to have participated in the first wave of protests but she was personally sympathetic.

Deaca immediately launched her own personal investigation, but quickly ran into roadblocks. Many in the Gaian Sisterhood were reluctant to let her sift through the regime’s dirty laundry, and so they proposed a rival investigation, to be run by the niece of the original Beta Coeli II mission chief. This was an obvious snow job, but when Deaca went directly to Lady Deidre on the matter, Deidre was characteristically unwilling to buck the majority faction in her party. She urged Deaca to cooperate fully with the ‘official investigation.’ If Lady Deidre expected that to end the matter, she was gravely mistaken.

Stymied after going through official channels, Deaca went public instead. At a rally in the great commons on Gaia’s Landing, she demanded that the regime make an immediate withdrawal from Beta Coeli II and stop transfer of arms and technology to den Fum. This public attack already outraged Lady Deidre, but Deaca was about to go further. Her team made contact with the whistleblower, and she published damning evidence from the mission logs on her private datalinks server. To her Ladyship, this was a betrayal of the highest order. Deidre, in a rare public address, placed the full weight of her credibility behind the Beta Coeli project, described the published reports as being selectively edited by ‘enemies of Gaia’, and announced that further disclosure of classified information would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

At this pivotal moment, Goli den Fum shocked the world by seizing control of the local Gaian fleet and declaring himself ‘Hallowed Comptroller’ of the ‘Ngodoan Holy Enterprise.’ Having secured the local system, at least for the moment, den Fum turned on the Gaians. He wept with crocodile tears over the crimes committed by the Gaian mission to his people, and demanded the Lawam system (which included the colony world Autumn Grove) as recompense for the lives lost. (Most of these lives were lost in his own leadership purges, a fact that he didn’t mention.) The den Fum government was immediately recognized by the Ngasiran StarCorp, and it soon became obvious that den Fum had been in contact with the Ngasirans for some time. Lady Deidre’s position was utterly discredited.

The Beta Coeli protests thus proved the end of the brief period of calm in the mid-2230s. Lady Deidre emerged from the debacle with her personal credibility tarnished in the eyes of the public for the second time in five years. More seriously, Aoife Deaca and her comrades in the Solidarity party were now radicalized. It had been common for the Solidarity organizers to argue that Lady Deidre was a good leader let down by the insular oligarchy surrounded her. Now they meant to replace her.
 

Cora Giantkiller

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And so Lady Gaia shows herself to be very human after all.

The fault is in our very DNA.
Oh, indeed. I'm about 100 years ahead of this and I can say that Gaian history has a strong element of "die a hero or live long enough to become the villain" to it.

Politics. Politics never changes! :p
One of the great eternals of human existence, I'm afraid.

Well, that was a disaster.

I’m assuming that Leina is no longer the heir apparent?

Ah, the generational gap...

Oh, the irony and hypocrisy of the humans. Then again, that’s nothing new.

And it looks as if the political parties are turning into factions...
Leina is indeed no longer the heir apparent (in game terms, I fired her as leader, so that's that), which as we see in this installment has strong ripple effects. As for the development of the political parties, I was thinking a lot about early American history and the growth of the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. The bit about the parties starting out as court factions is stolen from Gordon Wood, I believe. (Of course, infighting in the American founding generation was more vicious. Just ask anybody who knew Aaron Burr.)
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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That was rather mishandled.

Never send a Gaian to do a Spartan's job, or something like that :)
 

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*Cough* Burr killed Hamilton *cough*.

Back to the actual AAR: it seems as if the enlightenment plan went horribly wrong. Lady Skye's discredited again, and now Solidarity wants to overthrow the government? That escalated quickly.
 
The First Gaian Republic, 2238 - 2243

Cora Giantkiller

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The First Gaian Republic
2238 - 2243


Techt do Róim,
mór saítho, bec torbai.
In rí chon-daigi i foss,
manim-bera latt, ní fogbai.


Going to Rome,
great hardship, little profit.
You won’t find the king you seek there
unless you take Him with you.

Anonymous, Codex Boernarianus, Datalinks

During the festival of Alban Eilir of 2239, the Solidarity organizers announced a campaign calling for Lady Deidre Skye’s rule to be put to the vote. It was a significant date: Alban Eilir is a festival that marks the return of life to the Earth after a long hard winter, and this campaign was intended to bring the return of democracy to the Gaian rule after a long period of oligarchy.

The campaign received immediate support from the younger generations; those under the age of 45 were strongly in favor of democratic rule. Gaians on the colony worlds were also largely in favor. Bureaucratic dysfunction had led to painful housing shortages on Autumn Grove and Forest Primeval, where colonists with growing families found themselves crowded into tiny flats and prefab shelters. The Bouan colonists in Vale of Winds were particularly likely to favor democracy. Many older Gaians supported Deidre’s removal due to long-standing factional grudges--Solidarity employed organizers who once hailed from the Lord’s Believers, The Hive, Pravin Lal’s United Nations, and Zakharov’s University.

Older Gaians on Planet largely supported the status quo, however. They were wary of civil disorder thanks to the wars of unification, and saw the Lady in a near-divine light. Many religious Gaians feared that a secular state would begin to backslide on the sacred duties to life and the Tuath Dé. The civil service was largely bound by patronage ties to one member of the Sisterhood or another, and overwhelmingly supported their patroness. The one wildcard was the Gaian fleet. The women and men of the Gaian navy were broadly conservative in their outlook and unsympathetic to Solidarity, but they had no great love for Lady Deidre either.

The protests had a certain momentum at first, ramping up in the now six colonized worlds for several months until weekly rallies became part of the rhythm of everyday Gaian life. By the fall, however, Aoife Deaca and her core leadership cadre were concerned about the possibility of plateauing. Plans for a general strike only exposed the division between young labor organizers and older, regime-aligned union leaders. A dispute between Bouan activists and humans over representation on the Solidarity leadership cadre threatened to split the pro-democracy movement in two. Pessimism began to set in.

On August 23, Deaca arranged a quiet meeting with Admiral Ailis Lathal. The admiral had advised that Deidre fire on Solidarity protests five years earlier. In the intervening years, however, Deaca had deliberately cultivated Lathal as a fellow outsider in the Gaian oligarchy. In private conversation, the two would switch to the fast, Spanish-flavored patois of the Spartan colonies, which those from other factional backgrounds often found impenetrable.

The precise parameters of the deal cut that evening are unknown. Certainly the Gaian Republican would retain Deidre’s latter-day policy of dramatic naval expansion, and Lathal would remain the central figure of the Gaian fleet. The admiral was concerned for the stability of the Gaian state as much as her own personal power, however. The escalating series of political crises convinced her that Lady Deidre was losing her grip on Gaian society, raising serious doubts about the prospects for a peaceful succession. To her, a constitutional state was now the least risky option available.

With Lathal supporting a constitutional solution, the fate of the current regime was sealed. Lady Deidre agreed to a snap leadership election, to be called the following Januaryl. She stood as the candidate for the Greens, but her heart was never truly in the contest and she often spoke of retirement. Her reluctance notwithstanding, many Gaians were shocked when Aoife Deaca, standing for the Solidarity party, won the election on January 1, 2040. Lady Deidre was a towering figure, having led humanity back from the brink of extinction, established contact with the remarkable sentience known as Planet, and forged an empire in the stars. Now the Gaians would need to go on without her.



Everything about the transition of power was improvisational. What protocols existed for the transfer of power were written for Siann Leina, and primarily concerned funeral arrangements for Deidre Skye. In the absence of established protocol, the new regime opted for a simple religious ceremony in which Aoife Deaca would light a torch from Brigid’s eternal flame, a sign of her commitment to life in all its flourishing.

In another piece of improvisation, Deaca called for an election in Gaia’s Landing to choose the new governor in Gaia’s Landing. Most observers expected the Solidarity candidate to triumph easily over a desultory Deidre-loyalist campaign, but in a surprise result a Gaian priestess from Autumn Grove won a narrow victory over both. Núantolunn Glina was both plant geneticist and local cleric in the Gaian colony. Prior to the election, she had made a name for herself advocating that Gaian colonists cultivate local plants for human consumption, not simply imports from Planet (and ultimately Earth). She had a well-regarded holovid series that was one part xenobiology and one part cooking show, and when she announced her run for office, many pundits declared it a vanity campaign.

However, Glina was savvier than her critics. She was tempermentaly and religiously conservative, but she had an unassuming manner that proved broadly popular. As a Green, she was accused of being a stalking horse for the oligarchy, but her colonial roots and folksy manner made these attacks ineffective. She crucially identified herself as a member of the Greens and a democrat, a potent combination for an electorate still unsure about the new order. Glina would reorganize the Green party into a kind of ‘Wiccan Democrat party’, aligned closely with the clerical establishment while cultivating a popular base.

Glina’s victory meant that she and her allies would have seats at the table when the new republican order was fashioned. This was a headache for many Solidarity activists, who had resented the religious ceremony at Deaca’s ascension and advocated for a thoroughly secular state. Lady Deaca thought it far more important that the new republic have an opposition party invested in the success of the new regime, and would later write that Glina’s victory was an unexpected gift.



The primary task of the new Solidarity government was to establish a constitutional basis for a new Gaian democracy. The challenges were manifold. The experience of the 2230s taught Lady Deaca that the state’s administrative apparatus would need to be dramatically expanded to properly oversee life on six worlds (and counting), that could provide services in many human and non-human communities. Existing treaty commitments also required an interstellar fleet of unprecedented power. This sprawling interstellar state would also need to be accountable to a democratic process that included Gaians of all genders, cultures, and species.

Negotiations and political wrangling began even before Lady Deaca’s formal ascent. At first, debates were taking place within the Solidarity party, but soon Glina’s Green faction was invited to participate as well along with a collection of smaller factions. The first controversy was centered around the role of religion in public life. Bouan activists and humans on the Solidarity left-wing made a push for a complete separation of Wicca and state. Centrists, meanwhile, argued that the presence of religious ceremony would provide a crucial link between past and present. Deaca was sympathetic to the latter argument, and by inviting the Greens to participate in the constitutional process she effectively quashed the secularization effort.

Another significant controversy centered around the role of the military. Greens and Solidarity members alike were concerned about reactionary tendencies among the officer corps, but the fact was the civilian government did not yet have the power to control the military. This gave Admiral Lathal a de facto veto over any new constitution, an unpleasant reality that was rarely acknowledged in public. Lathal herself had no desire to actively undermine the new regime and would accept a constitution that required civilian control over the military--provided that civilian control proved primarily hypothetical.



For some, even this concession was too much. Nás Lenna, a young corvette captain from Forest Primeval, organized a conspiracy of like-minded junior officers that were later named the Void Pact. Lenna planned to seize control of the Gaian Fleet and the means of interstellar communication in an initial coup, and use her leverage to establish Lathal herself as Lady of a newly militarized Gaian dictatorship. The conspiracy was discovered when Lathal herself learned of the scheme, prompting the officers to flee to the Rasskikita system. Lathal took the Santiago fleet in pursuit, and the coup plotters died in the resulting battle--the first combat encounter of the Gaian navy. Lady Deaca and Admiral Lathal agreed to describe the Void Pact fleet as ‘pirates’, to keep the true fragility of civil-military relations hidden from the public.

On July 2, 2043, the constitution of the First Gaian Republic was signed in a lavish ceremony that included activists and leaders from across the political spectrum, including humans, Bouans and even a Ngodoan emigre from Vale of Winds. The new order would be dramatically decentralized, with extensive powers devolved to the sectors and planets. (Vale of Winds would soon have a Bouan planetary governor with Bouan and Ngodoan advisors.) On the federal level, the Gaian state would have a 501 person legislature (the Dáil), as well as an executive (the Lady, in a nod to the past) primarily concerned with defense and foreign affairs, to be elected to a ten year term.

To the irritation of secularists, the signing ceremony was incorporated into a belated festival of Alban Hefin, recognizing the summer solstice. In the Gaian religious tradition, Alban Hefin is a time of celebration and sadness, the day that the sun reaches its greatest strength and also the day when it begins to diminish. It would be up to a new generation of Gaian leaders to ensure that the same didn’t happen.

 
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stnylan

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A truly revolutionary change.
 

HistoryDude

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Ah, so Democracy exists now...

Well, that’s an interesting explanation for space piracy.

Well, it seems as if separation of church and state no longer exists...
 

volksmarschall

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Well, ironies always abound. The going thrust of revisionist history in our own time is that pirates were hyper democrats limiting the powers of captains and seafaring tyrants. Haha! Well, I guess in this instance, your instance, its that they were power hungry militants -- like the old school historiography used to maintain.