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Cora Giantkiller

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Got Nemesis yesterday and I've been revisiting the Gaia's Stepdaughters idea; I'm only forty years in, but I have the germ of a fun internal story and the prologue came to me all at once. The style is going to be largely history book with some present day sections included.

As before, the set up is based on Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, the best strategy game of 1999 and a childhood favorite of mine, and specifically on my favorite faction, the environmentalist Gaia's Stepdaughters. If you don't know SMAC, the first chapter should broadly get you up to speed--I have in any case added my own details to the lore. I built the faction myself, using a mod called Undiverse Humanity to ensure that all of my human leaders are women. I'm also using an expanded namelist mod, and specifically one called 'Space Celtic', which should offer a unique flavor all its own. The rest of the faction details are below:

JbyPvj7.png


(Note: I keep forgetting that the Gaian symbol in SMAC is a thorned rose, and it bothers me a little bit that I didn't use that here.)

Anyway, I hope that you folks will enjoy this; I've been really enjoying diving back into Stellaris, particularly with the new content, and I hope that y'all will come along with me.
 
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Prologue New

Cora Giantkiller

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Prologue

Iodame, I woke up early this morning and thought I felt you with me. It was dark in this cramped cabin and for a second I saw your form in the tangled blankets and it was like you were going to put your arms around me again. Decades fell away and we were in that hostel on Forest Primeval, posing as teenage runaways and praying that some nosy employee wouldn’t look into my pack and discover what we were really up to. Then I heard the faint dawnsong that the Eble-Iphe sing to their She Of The Void and I remembered. I am an old woman, and you are gone.

Of all the strange places that I’ve found myself over the years, this is maybe the strangest. The Eble-Iphe look a bit like shell-less snails, and their language is a combination of burbles, clicks and shrieks. I gave my name as Arachne, but the ‘n’ apparently requires a mammalian tongue so it comes out something like eee-AGH-click-eee. I don’t mind, really. I feel alone and conspicuous everywhere, and here at least there is a reason.

Besides, the mercenary vessels here on the galactic rim are maybe the last place free of Athena’s wrath. My savage snail friends have a long memory for slights and so somehow extradition treaties just don’t seem to apply here. If they don’t know who I am exactly, they should at least know that there is a valuable reward for my capture. But they won’t give Athena the satisfaction any more than I will, and I like that about them.

Instead, when I approached the captain seeking passage, he simply let out a burble and asked how I expected to pay for myself. Now as it happens, I have mastered a technology that is both ancient and powerful--double-entry bookkeeping--and Eble-Iphe mercenaries are long on reverence to their dark mistress but short on basic office management prowess. So I spend my days in a small interior room making sure that all my snails get their fair share of the credits, and none of them have killed each other in months so I think I’m doing a good job. I think they’ve started to like me, although to be honest it can be hard to tell.

In the evenings, I’ve been writing something. I think of it as the first honest history of our people in a hundred years. Maybe that sounds grandiose, I don’t know--maybe sitting on this anonymous garbage scow on the galactic rim drives me to think that I’m still contributing to the cause somehow, even if I lack your courage. Nonetheless, I’m writing about our history and it helps to put it all in a single narrative. Where did we go wrong, Iodame? Or were we cursed from the start? Maybe all this bloodshed was set in motion as soon as the Unity set off for Chiron. I don’t know.

In my heart, I’m writing to you. I write this history with its little asides and squirrel it away on a tiny personal drive with the expectation that you’ll be able to read it some day. Everybody said that you died that day on The Flowers Preach but I don’t believe it. Or I suppose I can’t accept it. Athena can’t have you, I won’t let her. She may rule the heavens but she can’t have you.
 
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Nikolai

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Amazing to see you back to the SMAC story, Cora! :D Looking forward to this!
 

Idhrendur

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Good to see you back, and very excited for the SMAC story.
 

Specialist290

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Glad to see another AAR from you, Cora :) I was a huge fan myself, back in the day, but I never really touched the Gaians much, honestly. It'll be fascinating to see how their history unfolds in a more "space operatic" setting like the kind Stellaris is based around.

Out of curiosity, will any of the other factions be making an appearance as well?
 

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Very intriguing start, excited to see more from you after enjoying your recent CK3 AAR so much :)
 

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Oh wow, I recently discovered you in the CK3 AAR. Your story there was really good. It is half my inspiration to try AAR writing. So yesterday I wrote an AAR here for a Stellaris game I started and here you are again!

PS: I loved Alpha Centauri when I was younger and I only played Gaia's Stepdaughters. I don't think I even teied any of the others? Just Lady Deidra Skye over and over again, making friends with the mindworms.
I custom-made all the factions in Stellaris once and forced them to spawn. Of course I played with Gaia's Stepdaughters. But I didn't get very far. I just couldn't see them as anything other than fanatic xenophile, pacifist. They don't strike me as spiritualist, but maybe because The Believers were always my friggan nemesis in that game and they were fanatic spiritualist, so I had to be something different. Anyway, I dislike playing pacifist in Stellaris -juat sitting around waiting with nobody to fight - so I got bored and gave up.
They're still in my empire list and sometimes show up in games, though!

Really looking forward to more of this, you're a really great writer.
 

HistoryDude

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Our narrator seems to be an exile...

Is Athena psionic? It's mentioned that she rules the heavens, so... and she's spoken about as an entity that can hunt the narrator down.
 
The Tragedy of Earth, 2025 - 2200 New

Cora Giantkiller

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The Tragedy of Earth
2025 - 2200


“In the great commons at Gaia's Landing we have a tall and particularly beautiful stand of white pine, planted at the time of the first colonies. It represents our promise to the people, and to Planet itself, never to repeat the tragedy of Earth.”
  • Lady Deidre Skye, Planet Dreams
eXrlzD2.png


By the dawn of the 23rd century, Lady Deirdre Skye had ruled in Alpha Centauri for decades. She was a woman apart, impossibly ancient and nearly godlike in her stature but also remote from her people and their experience by age and isolation. Longevity drugs had been kinder to her than many others, and she was by 2300 one of the very few original colonists. Having been raised in the last days of life of Earth granted her a perspective that few others could share. [1] Most importantly, she held the trauma of watching her home world perish, which even sympathetic women of later generations could not hope to understand.

The defining theme of her childhood and young womanhood was anthropogenic climate change: crop failures and resource wars were endemic in those days, and even in the cushy environs of the Skye family one could not miss the extreme weather events nor the stream of climate refugees from the global South. Industrial civilization was in effect committing a sort of slow motion suicide and she was witness to it all. As a university student in the United States of America, she became radicalized by socialist youth organizations. She became an eloquent advocate for au courant political causes such as prison abolitionism and fifth-wave feminism, but her overriding passion was of course climate change.

In the years before Unity, therefore, Deirdre had a bifurcated public image. She had a sterling reputation as a geneticist, pioneering strains of wheat and apples that adapted to the changing climates. As a public figure, she was deeply controversial, with a devoted following among the young as well as a number of powerful enemies in industry and government. As climate projections became increasingly grim, and international efforts became increasingly focused on the Unity project, Dr. Skye was a natural candidate for mission botanist. She nonetheless faced opposition from business interests and their allies in the academy, including the famed Russian physicist Prokhor Zakharov, and was only named to the mission after a prolonged pressure campaign.

Unity was presented to the global public as a mission in the style of the Apollo missions of the previous century, a mission to Alpha Centauri undertaken ‘not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’ Tacitly, it was understood as something far more grim: a last ditch effort to save a remnant of humanity before spiking temperatures and rising water levels made industrial civilization impossible. Deirdre Skye spent the final months before liftoff using her influence to secure as many positions on Unity as possible for friends or allies to spare them the grim fate awaiting the rest of humanity.

On March 14, 2060, the colonists of Unity were put under cryogenic suspension. By the time they awoke, decades later around another star, Earth would be as silent as the grave.

bullrZl.png


In 2099, a small piece of space debris collided with the Unity, destroying one of eight cryobays and killing hundreds of colonists and crew. The engine damage that resulted led to the early resuscitation of the colonists. While Prokhor Zakharov spearheaded repairs of the Gaussian ramjet, other colonists, disoriented and traumatized, were left to stew. A rumor quickly spread that elements in the crew permitted the eighth cryobay to fail; no evidence of this was ever discovered, but soon nearly every officer on the mission was suspected by somebody of the crime.

With trust in the officers collapsing, security officer Corazon Santiago and her supporters (known as the ‘Spartans’) led an attempted coup against Captain John Garland, to seize control over the repairs and ensure that further sabotage would not endanger the mission. The coup attempt led instead to widespread fighting throughout the Unity. After three days of persistent gunfire, a temporary peace was worked out between Santiago and the command structure--only to collapse again when Captain Garland was assassinated by persons unknown. With control of the Unity now seemingly impossible, different ideological factions fled to the landing pods and descended upon their new home: the planet called Chiron.

Deirdre Skye and her supporters were able to take hold of one of the pods and land in a lush natural harbor in southern Chiron. There the city of Gaia’s Landing would be born; the name was an ironic tribute to Zakharov, who had derided Deirdre’s circle as “Gaia’s Stepdaughters” forty years before. In the first decades of Planetfall, the culture of Gaia’s Landing was insular and--to Deirdre’s enemies--even cult-like. The trauma of losing Earth and the struggles of early colonization encouraged the spread of a spiritual practice, which was informed both by 21st century Wiccan practices as well as Deirdre’s own views on the environment. It was around this time that she was given the title of ‘Lady’, the title supposedly reflecting her maternal and nurturing leadership style.

Regime propaganda portrays the early colonial era as a happy little ecofascist paradise, and talks a lot about Lady Skye’s ‘organic’ connection with her people, but this is all basically wrong. In the first few decades at Gaia’s Landing, property was held in common and administered by a series of workers’ councils; Lady Skye was respected as a symbolic leader, but did little without popular support garnered at a series of public meetings. In his first report to the Board, the Morgan Industries representative to the Gaians described--in a tone dripping with contempt--how one such meeting ‘ground to a halt so the earnest women could discuss the value of a worm’s life.”

Other factions saw the Gaians as feeble, fractious and insular--which is to say, too peaceful and too democratic. What happened to us, then? The war started.

RArKfXT.png


On February 2, 2123, Gaia’s Landing was contacted by a representative of Pravin Lal, who purported to be Secretary-General of the successor government to the United Nations. After the initial conversations with Lal, it became clear that factional infighting had not stopped after Planetfall. Instead, ideological factions, including most specifically Colonel Santiago’s Spartans, had graduated from street fighting to full blown war. The Secretary-General proposed to use his good offices to put an end to the fighting, and Lady Deirdre offered her support for the endeavor.

The Gaians had little interest in the Unity Wars at first, and few other leaders saw them as a particular threat to domination of the new planet. The Gaian security force was little more than an ad hoc citizen militia, and Lady Deirdre was primarily concerned with study of the native life on Chiron. However, a series of landmark discoveries in the nature of Chiron would radically reshape Gaian priorities.

The Gaians had originally understood their biosphere to be comprised of a vast array of individual species, this being their experience on Earth. However, biological research in the 2130s revealed that this was wrong. Each mindworm and Isle of the Deep were not single life forms but part of a much larger, latently sapient hivemind known as Planet. The biorhythms of Planet included a periodic metamorphosis, and the next one--projected to be quite soon--posed an imminent threat to human civilization on Chiron if the factional leaders would not act appropriately. Contrary to Morgan Industries, the existence of humanity in fact depended on the value of a worm’s life.

The discovery of the threat was galvanizing to the people of Gaia, particularly when Lady Deidre Skye revealed that she had herself been in conversation with the entity known as Planet. The other factions were indifferent, however. Pravin Lal promised to give the ‘new hypothesis’ due consideration and consigned the question to a subcommittee for a series of desultory hearings, while the University of Planet was occupied in a desperate war with the Lord’s Believers. The other factions were openly dismissive. It seemed quite likely that humanity would blunder into another extinction-level event. A bellicose mood swept across Gaia’s Landing. If the rival factions would not take the threat seriously through diplomatic means, they would be made to by force. The stakes called for nothing less.

Of course, this did not immediately seem like a threat to the other factions, given the poor quality Gaian militia. This was a grave error in judgment, however; a young Gaian biologist, Alis Lindley, had discovered that psi-sensitive humans could learn to control individual mindworm swarms. The psionic attack of these swarms was truly devastating, breaking all but the most hardened military veterans; employing them as weapons gave the Gaians a devastating advantage.

The pressures of war dramatically changed the nature of the Gaian society. Lady Deidre Skye was suddenly in direct command of a powerful psionic corps. Mindworm swarms could not hope to occupy enemy bases, so an occupying force was fashioned, with Gaian officers with militia experience overseeing soldiers from the defeated factions. A parliament was instituted to preserve democratic rule while the citizenship of factional opponents was debated, but in practice the Dáil would become a home for Her Ladyship’s cronies and powerful Gaian elites who could not be ignored. The wartime regime was far more free and egalitarian than Athena is today, but it still amounted to the few ruling over the many.

The wars of Unification would last for two generations, and go far beyond the scope of my history here. [2] For our purposes, it is worth knowing that Chiron circa 2200 was only recently united by conquest and riven with internal divisions; that the Gaian armed forces--once the occupation force--was a hasty construction with any number of discreet regime opponents in its ranks; and that Lady Skye and her immediate circle ruled with little input from average citizens, be they native Gaians or otherwise.

The prospect of stellar expansion was supposed to be a unifying project that would consolidate support behind the regime. But as with the flight of the original Unity, fate would have other plans.

lCvnN7p.png


[1] In an internal memorandum on devolution of powers in 2234, Lady Skye made reference to the “West Lothian question”, a cryptic allusion that sent several puzzled aides to the datalinks to investigate. (It refers to internal political debates in Great Britain, a Terran nation of some notoriety.)
[2] The standard work on the voyage of the Unity and the Unification Wars to follow is, of course, Alpha Centauri by B. Reynolds and S. K. Meier. The state-approved version is heavily redacted and edited to read the imperial regime back into Gaian founding myths, so it is basically worthless. (The state censors also use initials to disguise that Reynolds and Meier are--gasp!--men.) The enterprising young woman will know how to seek out an early edition on the datalinks, but she should take caution to scrub her presence at illicit sites after.
 
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Cora Giantkiller

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Gameplay starts in the next entry, but I wanted to set the stage and I thought it would be fun to write a mini-AAR for SMAC while I was here. (To be clear, this is not from a specific SMAC game that I played, although I did tend to go for Gaian conquest a lot.)

Amazing to see you back to the SMAC story, Cora! :D Looking forward to this!
Good to see you back, and very excited for the SMAC story.
Very intriguing start, excited to see more from you after enjoying your recent CK3 AAR so much :)

Thanks, I hope it lives up to your expectactions!

Glad to see another AAR from you, Cora :) I was a huge fan myself, back in the day, but I never really touched the Gaians much, honestly. It'll be fascinating to see how their history unfolds in a more "space operatic" setting like the kind Stellaris is based around.

Out of curiosity, will any of the other factions be making an appearance as well?

The Gaians were always my favorites, in large part because the mindworm strategy was always my favorite. As you can see above, the idea is that this is kind of sequel campaign to SMAC, so the other factions won't necessarily be making an appearance during the Stellaris section itself; although I suspect that those ideologies will have an impact down the road.

Oh wow, I recently discovered you in the CK3 AAR. Your story there was really good. It is half my inspiration to try AAR writing. So yesterday I wrote an AAR here for a Stellaris game I started and here you are again!

PS: I loved Alpha Centauri when I was younger and I only played Gaia's Stepdaughters. I don't think I even teied any of the others? Just Lady Deidra Skye over and over again, making friends with the mindworms.
I custom-made all the factions in Stellaris once and forced them to spawn. Of course I played with Gaia's Stepdaughters. But I didn't get very far. I just couldn't see them as anything other than fanatic xenophile, pacifist. They don't strike me as spiritualist, but maybe because The Believers were always my friggan nemesis in that game and they were fanatic spiritualist, so I had to be something different. Anyway, I dislike playing pacifist in Stellaris -juat sitting around waiting with nobody to fight - so I got bored and gave up.
They're still in my empire list and sometimes show up in games, though!

Really looking forward to more of this, you're a really great writer.

I'm glad to be an inspiration for your AAR (which I have been reading and enjoying, btw). I will say, I never saw the Gaians as pacifist because I never played them that way; the spiritualism is inspired by the canon lore (which describes Deidre as having something akin to that kind of authority among her people) but then I decided that they were all Wiccans because I thought that would be fun for the AAR.

Our narrator seems to be an exile...

Is Athena psionic? It's mentioned that she rules the heavens, so... and she's spoken about as an entity that can hunt the narrator down.

Our narrator is using Athena in a metaphorical sense (and I figure that Arachne and Iodame are psuedonyms as well); I'll get into that more as we go on.
 

Specialist290

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Humanity may have escaped Earth, but it has found it far harder to escape its own nature.

One of the things I always found a little jarring about the Gaians, when I really took the time to think about it, is how the their manipulation of mindworms to serve their own ends -- namely, as tools with which to vanquish their enemies -- seems to subtly undercut their official stance of humans living in harmony with nature as equal partners. Granted, each of the factions and their leaders all have their little inconsistencies and occasional hypocrisies -- it's one of the things that adds a bit of that human touch to the setting that has always kept me coming back over the years.
 

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darkhaze9

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Wonderful first entry, definitely engaging and sets the scene - even as someone who never played SMAC myself.
 

Weyird

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Good synopsis of the Alpha Centauri plotline, for those who are unfamiliar. Also made me insanely keen to play that game again; it's surprising a Civ-esque game could have such a good story.
 

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Good synopsis. Now I have context!
 

DensleyBlair

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Just checking in Cora. I'll catch up with this soon, but in the meantime it's great to see you writing again – even if it on a subject I know bugger all about. Looking forward to following along!
 
Steely-Eyed Rocket Women, 2175 - 2208 New

Cora Giantkiller

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Steely-Eyed Rocket Women
2175 - 2208


“Once a man has changed the relationship between himself and his environment, he cannot return to the blissful ignorance he left. Motion, of necessity, involves a change in perspective.”
  • Commissioner Pravin Lal, A Social History of Planet
lm5N92f.png


In 2175, Alexei Vasilikovich Federov--then working as an astrophysicist at the University-aligned outpost of Zarya-Sunrise--first discovered the existence of the hyperlane megastructures at the furthest reaches of the Alpha Centauri system. Initially the purpose of the hyperlanes were obscure, and despite Dr. Federov’s advocacy, sustained research into their use was deemed secondary to the needs of the Unification War. Federov died in the final siege of University Base, a decade later, never learning that he had made one of the biggest discoveries of the century.

Research would not resume until Lady Skye declared victory in 2186 and the surviving researchers at Zarya-Sunrise were folded into the Gaian Space Initiative. The GSI’s primary mission was exploration of the Centauri system with a longer term aim of moving industrial processes off-Chiron; however, exploration of the hyperlanes continued under Dr. Federov’s protege, Natalia Georgiyevna Yushchenko, who used her formidable skills at bureaucratic maneuvering to secure cargo space for probes on military shuttles or construction vehicles.

The first seven probes to encounter the hyperlane structure disappeared and were believed destroyed. Probe PSZ-8 [1], launched on 2191, was believed to suffer the same fate, but to the astonishment of Dr. Yushchenko’s team, the probe returned after sixty-five hours with initial survey data on the Haro system, some twenty light years away. Humanity had achieved faster-than-light travel more or less by accident, and with that the stars were open to us. [2]

The success of PSZ-8 astonished the people of Chiron and greatly raised the profile of the hyperlane project. Accordingly, Yushchenko was sidelined in favor of a high profile effort by particle physicist Cótighín Unog. Dr. Unog’s easy-going nature made her a favorite in the Gaian media, but more importantly she was the daughter of the Gaian elite and considered to be politically reliable. Unog was to continue the unmanned tests of her predecessor in anticipation of what became known as Project Tír na nÓg--crewed missions to determine the habitability of other worlds.

I8ha5Vm.png


The Tír na nÓg astronauts would need to meet a variety of mutually contradictory requirements. The initial Tír na nÓg modules would house three crew members for a mission that would last at least eight weeks, necessitating that the crew be accustomed to isolation--while also being extroverted enough to serve as spokeswomen for the Gaian space project. They would need to be bold adventurers who loyally toed the government line. Scientific prodigies who were also expendable.
The first astronauts were primarily Occupation Force pilots with thousands of combat hours from the Unification Wars, or test pilots who had pushed the bleeding edge of intra-system flight. As a seventeen-year-old cadet, Blaiogu Failal (b. 2172) flew a ship in an experimental fusion drive in a big looping orbit as far as the gas giant Fingainóinn; the military brass officially condemned her recklessness before shortlisting her for Tír na nÓg. For many, her cocky grin was synonymous with the interstellar expedition.

Dán Bonda (b. 2160) was only twelve years older, but serving as a combat pilot on the Hive front in the 2180s marked her as a woman apart on Tír na nÓg. In the course of her last tour of duty, Lt. Commander Bonda was shot down over enemy territory and narrowly escaped capture by Chairman Yang’s militia. In her civilian life, she was one of Gaia’s leading botanists with an intuitive sense that led her to several ground-breaking discoveries in the study of the fungal bloom.

Bonda would command the first crewed mission over the hyperlane, launching on June 3, 2193 on a Tír na nÓg capsule that was (in her words) “about the size of a Spartan prison cell.” Tír na nÓg 1 was gone from GSI sensors for ninety-four heartstopping hours. According to one popular story, Lady Skye’s aides were hastily composing a eulogy when Bonda’s signal was received. The even-tempered Bonda broke out in a rare grin; the commander had been distracted from returning on time, she said, by indications of organic life on two separate worlds in the Haro system. Haro IIIa was only barely capable of sustaining human life, but Haro I was, from her initial scans, “quite comfortable.”

rDFFjSa.png


The revelation of habitable worlds teeming with life just six months away from Chiron was electrifying. The Tír na nÓg astronauts increasingly pushed themselves to see how long they could stay in the Haro system to find new discoveries, which delighted the public while alarming flight surgeons. Lieutenant Failal put herself on starvation rations for 214 hours “and thirty-three minutes” but came back with video footage of Haro I _and_ the moon Haro IIIa that dominated the datalinks for the next three weeks. (Failal herself passed out upon her return to Chiron gravity and was in recovery for months, a fact that she and the GSI both concealed.)

Beyond the spectacle, the apparent habitability of Haro I raised the prospect of space colonization in the public imagination. This was tantalizing to many who grumbled at the cramped quarters of the old Chiron bases, and particularly to those who had been political enemies of the Gaians during the Unification Wars. Lady Skye was also interested, hoping to reduce the ecological impact of billions of teeming humanity by dispersing them to the stars.

To do so, the GSI would need to replace the Tír na nÓg capsule with a larger vessel designed to sustain a crew of thirty for up to at least five years. The first of the new Colbhennéll-class science ships, the GSS Zakharov, would launch in 2199 with Failal in command. It's sister ship, the GSS Lindley, launched on May 1, 2200, but to the surprise of many, Dán Bonda was passed over. Instead, command was given to a young string theorist named Annu Lore (b. 2171). Lore was the daughter of an influential member of the Dáil and undoubtedly brilliant in her field, but she had not been one of the Tír na nÓg astronauts. She would perpetually struggle as a ship’s captain, with ultimately tragic consequences.

9sm4uJP.png


The colonization of Haro I, now known as Forest Primeval for its verdant woodlands, was announced on September 13, 2204. Hundreds of thousands signed up to be in the first wave of colonists, far outstripping the number of beds available. Many enterprising Gaians paid to have civilian ships outfitted with crude hyperlane drives so that they could offer services as transport to the new colony. The typical would-be colonist was downwardly mobile, hailed from a defeated faction and prone to ideological deviation, and suspicious of Gaia’s Landing. They were happy to leave and the Gaian leadership was happy to see them go.

The first colonists landed on Forest Primeval on March 17, 2206, and within hours hundreds of prefab shelters dotted the clearing while sentry probes scouted the perimeter. As a sign of things to come, the first religious ceremony on this new world was not Wiccan, but Christian--a Pentecostal open air revival to christen the city that they were already calling New Eden. The bemused Gaian colonial governor observed that the unusual concentration of Lord’s Believers would surely be diluted after further waves of immigration of Chiron, but for the moment she could only regard her new subjects as strangers.

While the colony of New Eden rose from the forest floor, the Lindley and the Zakharov continued their survey of the nearby sectors. Their joint mission was known as the Habitable World Survey, and ostensibly they were looking for further possible targets for colonization. Increasingly, however, their remit had grown to include: identifying defensible chokepoints [3], archaeology of ancient ruins, and reconnaissance of possible rivals in space.

In the nearby systems, there was abundant evidence that the galaxy had been populated by at least one other star-faring species, and probably more. The hyperlanes themselves were clearly artificial, and they were but one example. When GSS Lindley scanned Himal III in June, 2201, they revealed evidence of artificants dated back six million years. Annu Lore’s initial report posited an ancient race known as the Yuhl, which appeared to be truly massive anthropoids not unlike a centipede that commanded even larger ships. Might these Yuhl have built the hyperlanes, or did they simply take advantage of their existence? Further surveys only complicated the timeline. The asteroid IL-3542 bore signs of energy weapon fire dating back to the time of the Roman Empire, while on the moon Tlom IVa evidence of ancient writing was found on alien centotaphs from perhaps six hundred thousand years BCE. The galaxy was, at least at one time, a very crowded place indeed.

The probability was mounting that humanity would make contact with at least one interstellar empire. Deep in the halls of Gaia’s Landing, a debate raged: should they welcome first contact, or not? The admiralty and security services were wary about the intentions of potential rivals, but many Gaian elites felt like being welcoming to outsiders was in keeping with their traditional values as a people. [4] After several heated discussions, Lady Skye finally ruled: their ships would welcome new peoples with open arms.

It was a bold stance, and soon it would be put to the test. Just after the festival of Lughnasadh 2208, an urgent report came to GSI from the Zakharov. First contact had been made with an unknown vessel in the Denip’s system. It remained to be seen whether they would be friend or foe.

9uki8L1.png


[1] Unofficially named for Prokhor Sergeyovich Zakharov, formerly Academician of the University of Planet.
[2] That is to say, some stars--approximately one thousand in the final accounting, or 0.0000000005% of the number of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
[3] Initially slated to be surrounding the stars Snaga, Guelea and Tlom, although Gaia would soon outgrow this.
[4] The millions who died in the Unification Wars might dispute precisely how welcoming we Gaians were, but I digress.
 
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Cora Giantkiller

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Humanity may have escaped Earth, but it has found it far harder to escape its own nature.

One of the things I always found a little jarring about the Gaians, when I really took the time to think about it, is how the their manipulation of mindworms to serve their own ends -- namely, as tools with which to vanquish their enemies -- seems to subtly undercut their official stance of humans living in harmony with nature as equal partners. Granted, each of the factions and their leaders all have their little inconsistencies and occasional hypocrisies -- it's one of the things that adds a bit of that human touch to the setting that has always kept me coming back over the years.
Alas, it is so. :(

Hypocrisy is indeed a theme with the Gaians, particularly in my view of them--one of the reasons why I enjoy writing about them rather than, say, the Spartans is that they ostensibly stand for something noble but at the same time they can be as brutal as anybody else. I like that tension a lot.

Wonderful first entry, definitely engaging and sets the scene - even as someone who never played SMAC myself.
Good synopsis of the Alpha Centauri plotline, for those who are unfamiliar. Also made me insanely keen to play that game again; it's surprising a Civ-esque game could have such a good story.
Good synopsis. Now I have context!
Wonderful written start! Eager to read the rest ;)

Thanks, everybody! One of the things that I wanted to do this time around is making this accessible for folks who maybe liked my AARs or Stellaris AARs but didn't know SMAC at all--in any case, a lot of this is my own invention so it helps if you don't know the lore _too_ much.

Just checking in Cora. I'll catch up with this soon, but in the meantime it's great to see you writing again – even if it on a subject I know bugger all about. Looking forward to following along!

I'm glad to see you on here. I've tried to make it friendly to people who maybe haven't played this game from 22 years ago; if there's anything I can clarify as we go, please let me know.

I am very excited for this to get going in Stellaris!

I hope this entry whets your appetite for more.