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  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Prelude, ca. 2195
  • Cora Giantkiller

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    Prelude

    “You see in this dome the intermingling of native and earth plants. Outside, they are competitors, struggling over the trace elements required for life. Often, one destroys the other. Here, they are tended with care and kept well nourished. They thrive together, and the native fungus does not unleash its terrible defenses. As you can see, competition is unnecessary when resources are plentiful and population growth is controlled.”
    - Lady Deirdre Skye, Planet Dreams

    At the center of Gaia’s Landing, there is a vast hybrid forest, intermingling the native plants of Planet with trees from the lost forests of Scotland, ash and hazel, Scots pine and wych elm. Deep in this forest, one might stumble upon a circle of seven yew trees. These trees were without marker of any kind, and yet to the woman that had planted them, they were sacred grave markers.

    Lady Skye was the undisputed ruler of the world, a title won with blood and iron, and yet she felt herself a pacifist. It was only that the vast, awesome mind Planet was suffering. It was only that Planet’s agony had become her own. Now that Planet was safe, Deidre found that mourning came easier. And she did mourn them all, even those she had killed. Especially them.

    Miriam had carried an air of menace, even on the Unity. And yet she and Deidre had carried on a friendly theological debate with even a hint of sexual tension (or so Deidre would maintain). Now all Deidre could remember was her final shrieks of pain. Prokhor was a sexist pig; he pitched a fit when Deidre was appointed to the Unity, threatened by a female scientist that he couldn’t control. And yet a mutual respect had developed that lasted long after Planetfall. He had been determined to rebuild the lost Unity drive, and she had been happy to lend quiet assistance. They might have succeeded, had he agreed to cease his mindworm experiments. But he had not, and her hand was forced.

    She had not killed them all, of course. Pravin had been assassinated by the Chairman, himself overthrown during the Great Hive Purge and nerve-stapled for ideological deviation. The C-Suite executives of Morgan Industries were hung by a great proletarian revolt while their balance sheets and quarterly projections burned around them. Colonel Santiago died during the defense of Spartan Command, sacrificing herself to permit the orderly retreat of her men. Their outposts now reported to her.

    Their bodies were not preserved. With the pragmatism of early colonization, each was given to the recycling tanks. Instead Deidre planted a yew tree for each of those who had fallen.

    The seventh yew tree was for Deidre herself, when her time came. The Unity was a journey of desperation, to be sure, but she had come to this Planet in a spirit of adventure and discovery. Gaia’s Landing was an exciting place then, free-wheeling and democratic, polyamorous and polytheistic, half scientific convention and half pagan orgy. Then the wars of unification came, the austerity, the unfortunate crackdowns. Her innocence had been replaced with a wary pragmatism. The burdens of leadership caused her to withdraw from the people she was fighting for. Success had just meant more hard decisions.

    The sun Alpha Centauri B began to creep over the horizon, and Deidre’s communicator began to chirp with incoming messages. She scanned through reports of the sitdown strike in Morgan Solarfex (now in its third week) and supply line troubles plaguing New Jerusalem, a familiar dread settling in. Then one, a file sent by a data archivist in Academgorodok, actually intrigued her. It seemed that Prokhor had data indicating the existence of a vast megastructure, a network of hyperlanes stretching throughout the galaxy. Gaian astronomical data, collected in the past six months, confirmed his predictions.

    Deidre’s mind raced. This discovery was world-changing, and yet it had been sitting in a forgotten drive slated for destruction. With it, the Gaians could do more than replicate the Unity drive. They could vastly improve upon it, using these hyperlanes to travel to the stars in weeks instead of years. Her people could go to other worlds, discover other entities like Planet. A shiver went down her spine as she imagined being a pioneer again.

    She raced from the grove. She had to collect the scientific council immediately, other appointments be damned. There were new worlds to discover after all.
     
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    Crossing the Hedge, 2200 - 2214
  • Cora Giantkiller

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    Crossing the Hedge
    2200 - 2214


    “Go through, my children! The time of miracles is upon us. Let us cast off sin and walk together to the Garden of the Lord. With God's mercy we shall meet again on the other side.”

    Sister Miriam Godwinson, Last Testament



    The eternal flame of Brigid in Kildare is tended by a convent of nuns, Catholic religious observing ancient pagan ritual. According to legend, the flame is surrounded by a hedge; any man who crosses it will die or go insane. For the Gaians, this was a powerful metaphor. Had they not been charged with an eternal flame, organic life in all its abundance, in a cold and indifferent universe? Had they not cultivated a central hedge to protect it?

    For that reason, Lady Deidre chose Brigid’s festival, Imbolc, to launch the GSS Zakharov. The first ship with the new hyperlane drive would carry the flame over the hedge and into the universe beyond. Humanity would serve as a guardian of all life, in all its infinite variation.

    As she watched the Zakharov launch, Deidre was flanked by two women. Admiral Ailis Lathal had once been a loyal attache to Colonel Corazon Santiago. When Sparta Command surrendered, she was the first of many to swear her loyalty to the new regime. The admiral had little taste for Wiccan ceremony but her blunt talk and strategic mind did her credit to the Gaian sisterhood. She had spent the last year developing the sector-wide defense plan known as Project Vercingetorix, which called for the hardening of several hyperlane chokepoints to defend the local Gaian sector, and the immediate formation of a light-capable strike force. It was a vision of the world to come.

    Standing on the opposite, Governor Siann Leina cut a very different figure. Leina, heir apparent to Lady Deidre, was a child of the Gaian elite through and through. Leina had been orphaned as a child and practically raised by the Gaian sisters. Deidre had nicknamed her the Magician, for her intuitive and mercurial nature--qualities that Leina brought with her to public life, for good and for ill. Subordinates would complain that she was an inconsistent administrator, but she had been able to rely on her personal charm and friendship with ‘The Lady’ to paper over any difficulties. When those failed her, gods only knew what would happen.



    GSS Zakharov was an object of fascination from the beginning. The planet still bore the scars of unification, but this was something that somebody from any faction could be proud of: a expedition to the stars, made out of hope rather than desperation. Captain Ellái Vana presented a confident, photogenic figure, explaining the mysteries of the universe in accessible language. The Zakharov Beltane message was particularly memorable: a photo of Vana standing in the alien forests of La’ah II, without helmet or atmosphere suit. Behind her, a sprawling alien complex of indeterminate age. The caption: “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.”

    Vana’s photo was a sensation as soon as it hit the datalinks, and it set off a public clamor for information about the planet La’ah II and the alien race (known as the Grunur) that once inhabited it. Xenologists and xenobiologists pored over the data sent back from the Zakharov, while the media asked a more basic question: when will La’ah II be cleared for human colonization? Soon the Admiralty was deluged with messages from would-be colonists.

    The Sisterhood was taken aback. According to Project Vercingetorix, human colonization was scheduled for 2020 at the earliest. First the immediate sector would need to be secured from outside threat. Then relevant worlds would be evaluated for at least ten years, to identify climate or geographical anomalies, ecological resilience, and (most importantly) native sentience. By 2015, one might begin a multi-year selection process for prospective colonists, paying close attention to group psychology to avoid the Unity experience. The public’s desire for haste was alarming.

    Alone among the elite, Leina spoke up for immediate colonization. Just a few years ago, people were killing each other in a brutal civil war. Now members of all factions were crammed together in small pre-fab bases. Tension was thick in the air. We need a pressure valve, Leina argued, before something explodes. It proved to be the excuse Lady Deidre needed to start a grand adventure.

    She announced a compromise proposal: one year of extensive study of La’ah II, while colonists would be selected for a prospective first wave. Launch would only be approved if Gaian xenobiologists could design a zero-footprint colony. Lady Deidre meant to guard the flame, not snuff it out.

    So began the Gaian Age of Discovery.



    On March 2, 2202. Captain Vana recorded a video from her ready room, her usual grin gone. “So I’ve been doing--I mean, the crew has completed their initial geographical survey of Gallust IIIa. The mountains in the southern continent? Aren’t mountains. The analysis shows that it can only be… organic, the fossil of some massive [CENSORED] creature the size of the Himalayas or something. [pause] And we don’t know where it came from.” By April the video had 395.6 million views.

    In some ways, the discovery of the gigafauna made a larger impression on the Gaian imagination than their later encounters with interstellar empires. To the popular imagination, the entity called Planet was seen as sui generis, an ‘alien god’ (in the words of Prokhor Zakharov) who emerged from the unique Centauri biosphere. The Gallust discovery suggested something more astonishing: a pantheon of gods and godlings, powerful and mortal, throughout the galaxy. The Gaians referred to these creatures as Tuath Dé, the gods of pre-Christian Ireland. To those of a providential inclination, it began to seem that humanity was being called to travel to the stars to protect these magnificent creatures. Their presence--and their frailty--lent a moral grandeur to human expansion to the stars.



    In August 1, 2202, the colony of Forest Primeval (formerly known as La’ah II) was founded. In the official Sisterhood broadcast, the colonial governor gave a brief speech before a priestess led the colonists in a Lughnasadh festival, celebrating the symbolic harvest of the new world. The video was widely shared, second only to the Gallust discovery, and soon Governor Leina announced a second wave, then a third and a fourth. By 2214, the population of Forest Primeval numbered in the millions.

    That same year, Governor Leina suggested a second world, Lawam III, as a new target for human colonization, to be called Autumn Grove. She found Deidre and the rest of the Sisterhood were eager to cooperate. The Forest Primeval experience had proved to their satisfaction that mass human colonization was possible without jeopardizing the ecology of the new world. Deidre even talked of an interstellar tour of the Gaian worlds, speaking rhapsodically about feeling the warmth of new suns.

    If Lady Deidre Skye was entranced by the colonization of new worlds, she was not alone. The Gaian public eagerly absorbed every new video from the Zakharov (and, after 2206, the GSS Lindly). Holovid watchers tired of war heroes like Recon Rover Rick, preferring new stories about bold space explorers venturing into the unknown. If only a minority actually emigrated, many more--from every faction--hoped to do so. For the first time, the people of Gaia’s Landing were united behind a common project.

    It was not to last. A dramatic discovery on Beta Coeli II would expose new divisions in the Gaian public and even among the elite.
     
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    The Makings of Empire, 2214 - 2221
  • Cora Giantkiller

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    The Makings of Empire
    2214 - 2221

    “You are the children of a dead planet, earthdeirdre, and this death we do not comprehend. We shall take you in, but may we ask this question--will we too catch the planetdeath disease?”
    Lady Deirdre Skye, Conversations With Planet


    On August 8, 2214, the Zakharov detected anomalous atmospheric readings from Beta Coeli II, indicating the presence of a greenhouse effect. Imagery from an initial probe indicated the possibility of agriculture, and other attempts at ecological management. By the time a team of xenologists made a discrete trip to the surface, they were unsurprised to find a sprawling civilization bearing the hallmarks of the human Industrial Age: fossil fuel use, mass production of goods, gunpowder.

    The xenologists brought back with them a collection of written material, and began the arduous work of translating the local language. What they learned about the Ngodoans--as the natives referred to themselves--was alarming. The Ngodoans had adopted a crude system of imperialism, justified by ‘race science’ that proved the inferiority of some Ngodoans and their suitability for enslavement. Internal warfare and exploitation were common, and their industries were endangering their civilization.

    And then a xenobiologist identified a Tuath Dé. The body was lying in the southern continent, and as it decayed it released a potent psychedelic into the atmosphere. Had these Ngodoans killed a god out of malevolence? Had they allowed it to die by polluting the atmosphere, overhunting local herbivores, accidentally poisoning the groundwater? The cause of death was unknowable but the crew suspected the worst. Many were overcome with a religious horror.

    Captain Vana understood how explosive her report would be. Uncharacteristically, she filed her report with the Gaian Navy without an accompanying video for the public. Her discretion was in vain, however. Zhakarov fans on the datalinks noticed the discrepancy quickly, and began to speculate that Vana had discovered intelligent life. With the rumors spreading online, the Sisterhood could not keep the true report classified for long.

    Within the Sisterhood, Siann Leina successfully pushed for a program of education for the Ngodoans. If they could be taught the principles of the Gaian faith and the tragedy of Earth, then they might have the foresight to save themselves and their planet before irreversible climate change. If the Sisterhood did nothing, she reasoned, the Gaian faithful might rally behind a more extreme proposal--violent reprisals or subjugation. Was this not kinder?

    Lady Deidre agreed, authorizing the construction of an observation post where Gaian priestesses would teach religion and ecology to the Ngodoan masses. She released Vana’s report with a statement that the Ngodoans were unaware of the damage they were causing, but they ‘would be taught the error of their ways.’ This succeeded in mollifying most, but even at the time there were critics who opposed what they saw as cultural imperialism. Governor Leina would be dogged for months by protesters who referred to her ‘White Man’s Burden.’.



    On September 14, 2214, a junior science officer at the Lessia starbase noted the arrival of a solitary craft with an unfamiliar silhouette. The ship’s hails were incomprehensible, but it appeared to be conducting a routine survey of the system. The ship was left alone, while their initial communications were sent back to Gaia’s Landing for translation.

    Xenolinguistics revealed that the message contained a greeting on behalf of a Chief Executive Officer Malä’ Kamër, of the Ngasiran StarCorp. CEO Kamër was happy--he claimed--to offer to all benighted civilizations the gift of enlightenment, as found in the words of an ancient sage, the All-Seeing Oktä. This sage’s wisdom was available for a (very reasonable!) annual tithe, surely a small price to pay for true contentment. The Sisterhood was, needless to say, nonplussed. The women had waited for months to learn what the Ngasirans had said, speculating endlessly. It was anticlimactic to learn that this first message was, in Governor Leina’s words, “a sales pitch from an interstellar televangelist.”

    “A televangelist with a fleet.” Deidre pointed out. “A fleet larger than ours.” And so the Gaians decided to respond to the Ngasiran altar call.

    Lior Boda was dispatched to make the initial approach. Boda was a University-trained ethnologist as well as a diplomat, and she hoped to meet the Ngasirans in an ecumenical spirit. However, the Ngasirans proved quite uninterested in ecumenicism. When Boda declined to accept enlightenment (available as a subscription package with one of several price points), the Ngasiran ambassador pronounced her “as simple as a Bouan.” The meeting devolved from there.



    That would have been that, were it not for some quick thinking by Boda. Before departing back to Gaia's Landing, she bribed a low level technician for the communication frequency for the ‘simple-minded’ Bouans. The Bouans turned out to be an insectoid people, two meters tall on average, and in that sense quite daunting to the first humans who encountered them. They were also in their way quite as interested in trade and commercial success as the Ngasirans had been. But the Bouans had two qualities that did them much credit in Boda’s eyes: (a) Bouan folk religion was not a missionary creed; and (b) the Bouans despised the Ngasirans.

    Boda returned to Gaia’s Landing having secured a diplomatic revolution: a comprehensive alliance with the Bouans, including trade, knowledge-sharing, mutual defense, and (in due course) open borders--all premised on the need to contain the more powerful Ngasirans. The Gaians settled into a cold war that would last for decades to come.

    The Gaians had little military tradition themselves, having relied on a class of empaths to control the native mindworms that won the wars of unification. However, the new interstellar reality seemed to dictate the creation of a powerful navy. Lady Deidre authorized a program of sharp naval expansion. At the start of the century, the Gaians had three corvettes retrofitted with experimental hyperlane drives. By 2230, there were twenty, with second generation laser weapons and the latest fusion reactors. For officers, Admiral Lathal recruited heavily from her own personal networks: the Gaian flag officers of the 22nd century were overwhelming the Spartan junior officers of the 21st. Their alienation from the Gaian civilian leadership was absorbed by recruits too young to remember the wars of unification. The officer corps was nonetheless loyal to Admiral Lathal, and Lathal was loyal to Lady Deidre. For the moment, that would have to suffice.



    The Gaians had made contact with three alien races in less than a year, and the combined effect radically challenged their sense of themselves. They were by nature curious and welcoming about alien life, but the new interstellar order raised many questions. The Gaians had never attempted military exercises beyond near-Planet orbit and now they were committed to potentially support an alien race in a war that would span across light-years. The Sisterhood had in turn promised this alien race--a race of giant sentient insects--unrestricted migration into Gaian space. In the meantime, the government had announced that the third alien race, themselves cyclopean primitives, were not only polluting their planet but had also engaged in deicide.

    The public responded in two different ways. For many, this new reality was disorienting and off-putting. Many reported that they were attempting to commune with Planet. More retreated into the practice of the Wheel of the Year to offer some sense of stability in a suddenly alien world. Attendance at the sabbats dramatically increased in 2015, and remained elevated for decades to come. For others, the prospect of alien life existing in such variety was purely exhilarating. The number of new Gaian acolytes increased dramatically, but so did the new students in xenology, xenobiology, and xenolinguistics. Popular science holovids about the Bouans and Ngasirans proved to be a reliable money maker.

    (These impulses need not be at odds, of course. For the Gaians, study of organic life in its infinite varieties would always be a sacred function.)

    Two broad political factions began to emerge, within and without the Sisterhood. Lady Deidre and her oldest comrades formed the Conclave of Spiritualists, dedicated to reaffirming the traditional Wiccan values of the Gaians and the memory of ‘the tragedy of Earth.’ Colloquially, this faction became known as the Greens. Governor Siann Leina and the younger members of the Sisterhood were more open to the possibilities of the new interstellar world, and formed the Alien Tolerance Group, colloquially known as Solidarity.

    These were not yet political parties as we understand them. The Sisterhood still served as a self-conscious elite bound by their experience of wartime leadership, and their members had more in common than they did apart. Politics for the Gaians primarily took the form of court intrigue. However, the Greens and Solidarity each cultivated the formation of local faction organizations in the major Gaian cities, knowing that a show of popularity could make the difference in a dispute between the elites. This would prove an important precedent in the years to come.
     
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    The Vale of Winds, 2221 - 2234
  • Cora Giantkiller

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    The Vale of Winds
    2221 - 2234


    “He held his arm too stiffly, and so was thrown back repeatedly, until at last I seized his forearm and snapped it back against itself. His training suffered while the arm healed, of course, but I felt this was a lesson he must learn early, and well.”
    Spartan Kel, Honing the Ki

    Gish B III was a frigid world by human standards. The air was breathable and with some basic environmental suits humans could survive on the surface, but it would never be truly comfortable. Meanwhile, ecological resilience reports indicated that Autumn Grove and Forest Primeval could accommodate continued human immigration for another few decades without threatening existing ecosystems. For that reason, Gish B III was initially classified as a low priority for human colonization, projected for potential occupation no sooner than 2250.

    It came as a mild surprise, therefore, when the Gaian colonial authorities announced plans to colonize Gish B III, in a colony to be known as Vale of Winds. More surprising still, the projected colonists would not be human at all, but Bouan. Per the official announcements, several thousands Bouans had agreed to migrate to Vale of Winds in order to supply Gaians with much needed alloys for the burgeoning civilian and military space fleet.

    Conservative Greens had worried for years about the prospect of Bouan mass migration. Bouan folk religion had traditionally valorized commerce and conquest, and their off-world colonies were heavily industrial places dedicated to short-term resource extraction. Would the influence of a Bouan minority water down Gaian commitments to the preservation of life? However, for years the prospect of mass Bouan migration had remained just a prospect. The towering insectoids were adapted to a colder and drier world than their human allies, and only a few merchants or diplomats lived in Gaia’s Landing or Forest Primeval. This new colonial project would mean migration in the millions, perhaps the tens of millions.

    To accommodate this fear, Governor Leina quietly implemented restrictions on the new Bouan migrants. For example, the Gaians subsidized travel for Bouans to Vale of Winds, but not the other worlds. Similarly, Bouans had access to prefab shelters, seeds, fertilizer and other supplies geared towards colonization of Vale of Winds, while the encounter suits used for warmer worlds were prohibitively expensive. Only a tiny Bouan elite would thus be able to afford offworld travel. On Vale of Winds itself, a human colonial government would oversee agricultural and industrial development to protect the native ecosystem.



    Socialism was central to the Gaian economic system, a core value of both the Greens and Solidarity. On Planet itself residents took for granted that the necessities of life, from food to housing to education, would be available for them. In the human colonies of Autumn Grove and Forest Primeval, things were not quite so developed. The market presence here was more substantial, although the power of local trade unions and the growing Green and Solidarity political clubs could be brought to bear should an outrage occur.

    Conditions were much worse on Vale of Winds. Leina’s restrictions placed control over the Vale of Winds economy in the hands of a few appointed colonial officers. Corruption and self-dealing were rife. Many skimmed money off the top of the colonial budget, took kickbacks from Bouan capitalists, and took stakes in the local businesses that they oversaw. The Bouans had little indigenous tradition of labor organizing. They did not speak the dominant human languages. Their primary source of support was the Bouan government itself, but the nearest consulate was on Forest Primeval. As a result, labor conditions were extremely poor.

    Ciara De Barra, the colonial official in charge of ecological resilience, had used government money to refurbish an ancient alien factory found on the planet, arguing that the advanced technology would permit her to produce alloys cleanly and inexpensively. She used her influence to secure a monopoly on alloy production, and in this fashion had accumulated a large fortune.

    Among Bouan workers, the alloy factory was the most dreaded assignment. Injury and death were common, in large part because De Barra did not truly understand the factory that she owned. In 2031, one of her engineers reported to her that the high fatality rate could be attributed to active security measures still in place. The engineer recommended that the factory be shut down until those security measures could be neutralized, which was projected to take several years. De Barra shelved the report, and conditions only worsened.

    In September 2033, a whistleblower leaked that earlier safety recommendation to the Gaian press, prompting a sector-wide outrage. Humans may have found the Bouans alien but the corruption and self-dealing of the colonial bureaucracy was all too familiar. Lady Deidre ordered a full audit of the Vale of Winds colonial administration. Independent investigators soon learned that De Barra had bought immunity from safety inspection by offering bribes and kickbacks to officials at all levels of government--including Governor Siann Leina herself.

    Deidre Skye was furious--at the loss of life, the inhumane conditions, the tarnished repudiation of her grand adventure into the stars, and most of all at the poor judgment of her heir apparent. She ordered De Barra’s prosecution and a thorough house-cleaning of the colonial bureaucracy. The alloy foundries would be given a complete safety inspection and then given to the collective ownership of the Bouan workforce. Governor Leina was officially censured by the Sisterhood.

    During her 2234 Imbolc address, Lady Deidre declared that the Vale of Winds scandal had been a collective failure. The Gaians were dedicated to remembering the tragedy of Earth, but instead they had replicated many of its abuses. She declared the world of Fywanes II would be consecrated to mark this failure. The newly-christened Memory of Earth, a temperate continental world once slated for colonization, would never know permanent human occupation.




    To Lady Deidre, the Imbolc ceremony had marked the end of the Vale of Winds scandal. Many Gaians disagreed. In particular, most members of Solidarity were incensed at their erstwhile faction leader. The premise of Solidarity was in the equality and sorority of all sapient peoples, values that Governor Leina had clearly betrayed. They weren’t satisfied with a reprimand and a symbolic apology. In the former Spartan city of Hawk of Chiron, a Solidarity organizer named Aoife Deaca proposed a simple, three word demand: fire Siann Leina.

    To the Gaians of the 2230s, this was a radical demand indeed. The local Solidarity and Green clubs were supposed to defer to their faction leaders, not make demands of them. The Sisterhood was a tight-knit elite, bound by deep personal loyalty. The experience of war and mutual sacrifice had once forged a deep bond between them and the average Gaian citizen; and Lady Deidre was convinced that those bonds held true still. Even her reprimand was considered extraordinary.

    Aoife Deaca (b. 2200) had hit on a potent generational cleavage, however. To those born too late to remember the wars of unification, the Sisterhood was simply a complacent oligarchy that took care of its own. Their grand ideals were just so much hypocrisy. Beyond that, the institutions of the Gaian state--built to govern a single continent on Planet--were genuinely struggling to administer an interstellar empire that now spanned hundreds of light-years.

    Deidre dismissed the Hawk of Chiron protest as a fringe reaction, but by the spring equinox, there were weekly protests in a dozen cities on Planet. Beltane, the great festival of youthfulness, was marked by protests on all four Gaian worlds. Deaca and her fellow organizers held a rally in front of the stand of white pine in Gaia’s Landing, a potent visual for the Gaian media. More than three hundred thousand people attended.

    By now, the political crisis was evident within the Sisterhood, but they could not agree on how to respond and their lady did not know how to lead them. Lady Deidre had put her full authority behind an institutional response to the Vale of Winds scandal, and for the first time in generations that had failed. Fearing another outbreak of the drone riots of a previous century, she could not give in to what she saw as social disorder. And yet when Admiral Lathal proposed that the Gaia's Landing protests be put down through force, Deidre was horrified. And so she dithered, throughout the long hot summer of 2234.

    By the end of August, Siann Leina had come to realize that her continued presence in office was a threat to Deidre herself. She offered Deidre her resignation on September 14, 2234. When Deidre was still reluctant, Siann met privately to deliver a reality check: popular opposition would continue to grow unless the Lady found a way to co-opt it. It was an emotional encounter, filled with anger and grief, but it worked.

    The following day Deidre met with Aoife Deaca. The older woman said that she was prepared to remove Leina from office, but that left her with a problem: finding a new governor that had credibility with the people and a mandate for reform. To her mind, there was only one conceivable candidate--Deaca herself. With a small smile, Lady Deidre asked, would the Solidarity faction find that acceptable? Nonplussed, Deaca said that she would have to sleep on it.

    On September 24, Aoife Deaca was inaugurated as the second Governor of Gaia’s Landing, while a crowd of thousands thronged in the great commons. Many in the Sisterhood avoided the ceremony. Those who did attend pointedly turned their backs when she made the ceremonial offering of hawthorn to Brigid’s flame, and sat on their hands when she donned the robes of state. One leading Green hissed at her, “No one here supports you.” Deaca only shrugged, and went to address her supporters in the square.
     
    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.
     
    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.

     
    Last edited:
    The Parliament of Dreams: 2243 - 2253
  • Cora Giantkiller

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    The Parliament of Dreams
    2243 - 2253


    “The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets that were evil.”

    Sister Miriam Godwinson, A Blessed Struggle



    In the 2243 elections, the first under the new republican constitution, Solidarity rode a wave of enthusiasm. The once insurgent party won 341 seats in the new Dáil, as well as commanding majorities in the sector legislatures for Gaia’s Landing and Resplendent Oak. In Gaian’s Landing, Núantolunn Glina won a narrow victory for re-election primarily by highlighting her working relationship with Aoife Deaca. Resplendent Oak governor Lus Utur had been appointed to her position by Deidre Skye, but she pragmatically joined Solidarity and adopted their platform as her own.

    With the wind at her back, Lady Deaca turned her attention to foreign affairs. In her first term of office, Deaca made three diplomatic advances that would define Republican politics in the years to come.

    At the dawn of this new republic, a scientific breakthrough revolutionized Gaian understanding of the galaxy. On February 29, 2242, the science ship Federov nearly escaped an encounter with what was initially thought to be hostile vessels from an unknown empire. Further examination of the Federov data revealed something more remarkable: a species of voidborne Tuath Dé, known popularly as the “space amoebae”. These beasts were fiercely territorial, even predatory, but they were nonetheless alive.

    Gaian biologists had not imagined the possibility of life existing in the hard vacuum of space, and many questions remained about how such life came to evolve. One thing was immediately apparent, however: if there were predators, then there was also prey. From the Zakharov, Ellái Vana proposed the existence of both carnivores (like the space amoeba) and ‘herbivores’, which would absorb the electromagnetic energy from stars. Whatever the reality, a massive Tuath Dé species could not exist except part of a larger, interstellar ecosystem. The galaxy was alive as surely as Planet was.

    Over the next four decades, Gaian scientists would go on to identify countless other voidborne species ranging from microbes that inhabited stellar dust to vast ‘herbivores’ like the tiyanki, also known as the ‘space whales.’ Some Tuath Dé, like the Void Clouds and the Crystalline Entities, challenged human conceptions of the very definition of life, prompting a revision of fundamental biological principles. The tiyanki were of particular note. These space whales were born and reared in the upper atmosphere of gas giants, only to delve into the void of space as young adults. In vast internal chambers, the juvenile tiyanki carried with them the atmosphere of their birthplaces, a relative oasis for life in the vacuum of space. A mature tiyanki might collect microbes and airborne organisms from dozens of systems throughout its, rendering each creature the home to unique ecosystems.

    “We call the tiyanki ‘space whales’, and in a sense, that is what they are: charismatic megafauna in an incomparably vast ecosystem that operates on geologic timescales,” wrote Ellái Vana. “In another sense, however, they are oases in a cosmic desert, or hydrothermal vents in a cosmic ocean. The internal ecology of each is as unique as our footprints. Were we be swallowed by a space whale like Pinnocchio in the ancient tales, we would be witness to an utterly unique drama as complex as Planet itself.”

    While much remained unknown about this new discovery in the early 2240, Lady Aoife Deaca and her ministers were clear on how to respond. The Republic was founded on Gaian principles and thus would defend the thriving ecosystem of the galaxy by sacred charge. On January 9, 2244, now-Foreign Minister Lior Boda promulgated what became known as the Boda Doctrine: the Gaian Republic would defend the integrity of this galactic ecosystem with military force. May the gods protect any empire that stood in their way.



    The second diplomatic advance began as a Bouan initiative. The Bouan Trade Commission had harbored growing concerns about Gaian instability during the 2230s and 2240s, fearing that internal chaos might lead to an isolationist or reactionary faction and leave the Bouans open to attack from their more powerful Ngasiran neighbors. The new democratic constitution struck many Bouan observers as a recipe for further chaos and subversion by demagogues.

    The sitting head of state, Chairman Mahloukrouzj, was an old and wily merchant prince. He had spent most of his eighty-nine years cultivating a reformist faction within the Bouan elite and scheming against his great rival, Chirioul, of the conservative faction. He had a louche reputation among the other Bouan princes, but he cared deeply about the safety of his people and thus was driven to his great diplomatic masterwork.

    The Bouans approached Minister Boda and Lady Deaca with a proposal: let the Gaians and the Bouans agree to form a federation, with a common governance structure that would bind them both and a federation fleet that each would contribute to. From a Bouan perspective, building the federation would deepen ties between the two powers such that a future Gaian reactionary would find it difficult to untangle them. The federation fleet was, implicitly, an answer to internal Gaian fears about the power of their own fleet: the commander of the federation navy could serve as a counterweight to the Gaian navy in an emergency.

    Aoife Deaca and her top aides greeted the proposal with enthusiasm. Lady Deaca had promulgated the Boda Doctrine but she was personally reluctant to engage in military adventurism. This was partially a matter of temperament and partially a matter of political expediency. The Void Pact coup was launched by anonymous junior officers, but what if the next one were led by a charismatic war heroine? This new federation would allow the Gaians to follow the Boda Doctrine by other means, by serving as the core of a powerful diplomatic bloc that could protect the galactic ecosystem through treaties and interstellar law. Provided, that is, that the federation followed Gaian prerogatives.

    The founding treaty for the United Sapient Nations was signed on March 8, 2244, by Lady Aoife Deaca of the Gaian Republic, Chairman Mahloukrouzj of the Bouan Trade Commission, and Hallowed Comptroller Goli den Fum of the Ngodoan Holy Enterprise. Minister Boda had negotiated for the inclusion of the Ngodoans--and hypothetical future vassal states--as separate entities with their own votes, and in exchange conceded that Mahloukrouzj serve as founding president for the next ten years.

    The Gaian Foreign Ministry publicly hailed the creation of a groundbreaking inter-species compact, unprecedented in the history of all three species. In a speech at the Gaian Fleet Academy later that year, Lady Deaca declared that the Gaian Republic was happy to sit at the table with representatives of all nations and species under the principles of equality and sorority. Internally, however, it became the policy of the Deaca government to establish a Gaian suzerainty over the United Sapient Nations “by any peaceful means necessary.”



    Signing the United Sapient Nations treaty was the high point of Goli den Fum’s reign as Hallowed Comptroller, and by then the writing was already on the wall. Den Fum’s reign as Hallowed Comptroller had been buoyed by a booming economy, powered primarily by industries related to the new interstellar drive, including alloy production and construction of ships for civilian and military use. Investment money was ever available for the space industry, creating a dangerous financial bubble. In the fall of 2042, the bankruptcy of a politically-connected aerospace firm burst the bubble, leading to a stock market panic and soon economic depression. With den Fum in desperate need of an economic bailout, the Gaians finally had enough leverage to change the terms of the relationship

    Ngodoans had been migrating from Beta Coeli II since the hyperlane drive had come to their system, crammed into the holds of rickety civilian ships piloted by suspect captains during the long journey to Vale of Winds. There many would find work in the farms and alloy foundries and surreptitiously wire money back to families on the homeworld through shady Gaian middlewomen. After the crash, den Fum realized that credits from Vale of Winds were a vital source of outside cash. Gaian envoy Lior Boda arranged a normalization of relations in exchange for an expansive migration treaty.

    The nascent Gaian Republic had few restrictions on citizenship. Indeed, leading up to the 2243 election local Solidarity and Green party leaders competed to declare Ngodoans citizens and register them to vote. A young Ngodoan scholar, Goli tal Oth, was named as a deputy minister in the Solidarity planetary government. Most Ngodoans on Vale of Winds were conscious that they had more freedom as Gaian citizens than they would have back home. In thousands of private messages home from Vale of Winds to Beta Coeli II, the seeds of discontent were nurtured.

    By 2247, den Fum faced serious unrest back home. Riots were endemic, prompted by democratic activists, by outrages committed by den Fum’s secret police, or simple hunger. Early crackdowns by the Hallowed Comptroller’s private security forces prompted an angry Lady Deaca to threaten den Fum with complete economic isolation. As the situation at home degraded, it became clear that his regime’s days were numbered. With den Fum getting desperate, Lior Boda was again dispatched to resolve the situation.

    Den Fum, backed into a corner, agreed to a plebiscite on the question of Beta Coeli integration into the Gaian Republic. In exchange, den Fum and a collection of cronies would be offered a peaceful exile in Bouan space. Held the following year, the plebiscite revealed that a strong majority of Ngodoans had come to see Gaian citizenship as a guarantor of stability and prosperity. A young priestess, Kiy up Khnu, was elected as planetary governor under the auspices of the Green party.

    (Kiy up Khnu and Goli tal Oth were lifelong correspondents. Both were ambitious Ngodoan politicians in a largely human republic, and both would be elected as sector governor at a young age. The secular, leftist tal Oth and the passionately religious up Khnu were rivals as much as friends, and their collected letters provide a crucial look in the political debates well into the Second Republic period.)

    The Ngodoans had experienced three decades of turmoil and conflict, from the world war at the dawn of the 23rd century, through first contact with the Gaians, the great pagan revival of the 2220s, and the violent reign of Goli den Fum. After the peaceful integration in 2248, most Ngodoans longed for stability and found it in pagan revivalist practice, which were soon ‘cleansed’ of den Fum’s idiosyncratic innovations. Aoife Deaca was broadly popular in Beta Coeli II, but otherwise the population voted for Núantolunn Glina’s Green party in overwhelming numbers. This had the unexpected result of granting the Greens a stable majority in the Dáil for decades to come, a political reality that Deaca would need to reckon with.

     
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