University Base, MY 2199
Prokhor Zakharov was quite pleased with himself. He was now looking over his data from the infiltration of the Cult, as and he had suspected they were terribly backward. Not only was their research rate an order of magnitude less than the University but they had no armor technology – none! And their best conventional technology was missiles. Soon the University would be coming out with their new plasma laser projectors. The poor sods of the Cult didn’t have a chance.
But there was still cause to be careful. For one, they had an abnormal amount of foil and defensive probes. Without adequate defenses it was highly likely that a based taken by conventional means would simply be subverted back, and that was not acceptable. Fortunately the University had an abundance of espionage teams. The primary problem would be getting them in sufficient numbers to do the job.
Another possible problem were their mind worms, which were both more formidable on defense than their unarmored scouts and could be used very effectively on the attack. After looking over the data it appeared that the Cult had a number of mindworms, but not many. They also had a number of isle so the deep.
Yes, it would take at least two and likely three isles of the deep full of troops to gain a foothold and then ensure there were no reversals when the Cult was finally brought to its knees. That would not be a big problem, they already had three isles of the deep after all, but that one was now taking colony pods to the Jungle. Other production had been diverted to support the Supercollider Project. Delays, delays…
Still, unless they somehow got armor or weaponry technology from someone it was only a matter of time.
He made a note to gift the Gaians the technology Industrial Base and also see if the Consciousness would be interested in purchasing some technology. He suspected they would.
HIVE 2199, NEXUS command center
“We have multiple reports of worm activity Chairman.”
Yang bent over the holo-table and waited as the duty officer quickly brought up the image.
“We have sightings next to HIVE -10. In fact, several sightings of worms.” The duty officer reported respectfully.
Yang waited a minute and then stood up.
“Order all Firemen into this area. Burn it clean of the infestation, purge it.” Yang finished as he turned and left the room.
Zho waited for him outside of the NEXUS along with several of Yang’s bodyguards.
“Trouble?” Zho asked politely.
“Nothing that can not be dealt with. Until we scourge this land clean of the infestation of worms and fungus we will never be truly safe.” Yang said as he began to walk down the hallway back to his quarters deep within HIVE – Prime.
“The new trance protection modules are under construction as fast as we can build them Chairman. As soon as they are all operational and each unit is equipped with them our defensive capabilities are poor to say the least.” Zho said as he walked along with Yang.
“Poor, perhaps but growing. If I do anything in my lifetime it will be to build a new human and rid this planet of fungus.”
Library of Planet, MY 2200
Zakharov looked over at Amy Constance. “So they decided to use the Gaian’s name for Chiron. Interesting.”
Amy looked over at him. “Saying ‘Planet’ is just as valid as the equally arbitrary ‘Chiron’. By convention the colonists of a new base can decide on whatever name they think is appropriate, subject to Council approval. Do you disapprove?” She shot him a challenging glare.
“No, no, not at all,” he said. “It just shows how much our Pact has altered our belief system.”
“And ours, theirs,” Amy retorted. “That is part of a Pact, isn’t it?”
“Well, yes. I was must making an observation,” he said weakly.
Amy smirked to herself. She rarely won these pointless little arguments so easily. She would definitely savor the moment.
“Now, explain to me again how we can have a higher research rate when our population has been reduced by the production of colony pods? I mean, in the last few years fully four colony pods have been produced, and during this time our research rate has increased by three percent. I was under the understanding that outside of infrastructure that we needed staff and energy to conduct research. Have I missed something?”
Amy now smiled openly. “Yes, you have. It is called ‘inspiration’. When our population dropped in the four bases they had more talents than drones. That results in a heightened productivity in almost everything, including research. It won’t stay that way as their populations grow, but in the meantime we will have four new bases, and that should increase our research rate all by itself.”
Zakharov grimaced. “Maybe not. Constance thinks that the added bases are going to strain our bureaucracy, which will increase discontent. I hope we can keep a lid on it. Rioting bases are inefficient, and destructive.”
“Agreed. But if we want to colonize the Jungle we have no choice. Our efficiency will always be a problem, but we can build to offset the concerns, I think. Just wait. I think it will be worth it.”
“That is a moot point. The colonies start landing in the coming year, with support arriving shortly thereafter. Not leaving anything to chance, eh?”
Amy shook her head. “Not with the nasty Cultists and Believers roaming around. Did you see how the Cultists have stopped the Gaians cold? And how there are Believer probe teams at the edge of Consciousness territory?”
Zakharov nodded grimly. “We may have to give them a hand.”
“Yes. The Believers will be after the Gaians next, you know. I will trust the Believers to be relentless, just like on Unity.”
“Like on Unity,” he repeated as he sipped his Chiron Gin. It really wasn’t that bad after you got over the pink spoors in your tongue. He just hoped they didn’t sprout this time.
HIVE 2200, Birthing warrens of HIVE – PRIME
“Is this report correct Zho?”
“Yes, I do believe it is.”
Yang stopped as watched another mother gave birth to a small baby that was quickly whisked away by a group of drones. Then another group of drone technicians quickly began the process of post-delivery needs.
“It’s amazing when you think of it Zho” Yang said as he looked through the one way glass at the large room filled with mothers, all in the process of giving birth in one state or another. “The changes we have brought about are astounding to even me sometimes. Soon the population of half of the HIVE cities will reach five thousand souls. That will be more than thirty thousand people!”
“Yes, truly.” Zho added politely.
“So the Spartan capital city is no more than a hovel.” Yang commented as he watched another women give birth.
“Yes, it would seem so. I double checked reports from our agents on board the PRIME and they all agree. The Spartan capital is less than two thousand souls and for all intents and purposes has next to nothing in infra-structure. Their cities seem to be spread out over a vast area, perhaps equal to ours. They did not adopt the compact expansion design that we have taken and it seems many of their cities are placed randomly and very, very far apart. Supporting a city under attack would be a great challenge to the Spartans.”
“Their arrogance will insure their defeat then.” Yang began. “I am pleased the map information we have obtained has been corroborated by the crew of the PRIME.”
“Yes, just so.” Zho added. “I have reports from HIVE – 10 that they did launched an attack on a mass of worms near their city, all the worms were destroyed. HIVE – 4 reported an attack by sea from a single, serpent like creature.”
“A sea serpent?” Yang quickly turned towards Zho his face a mask of concern. “Not a mass of worms then but a single sea serpent creature?”
“Correct, it seems the creature swam into the dockyards of HIVE – 4 and began to attack the drones but the garrison quickly responded and destroyed it.”
“Good.” Yang said in a relieved tone. “Will we ever see the end of these creatures! I want them exterminated from Chiron as quickly as possible. This is my world now, not theirs.”
“Yes, just so.”
University Base, MY 2201
“Our growth will be both vertical and, with our third wave of expansion, horizontal,” Councilor Amy Constance stated. “Our current social model is not well disposed to vertical expansion through population growth, but this can be mitigated through aggressive use of supply crawlers to harvest food. Moreover, the supply crawlers to some degree make population less important since resource collection is automated – willing hands that don’t riot or require resources. The benefits to our industrial output have been substantial.”
He pointed to the new and proposed bases. “In addition to the vertical growth and enhanced industrial production we are embarking on horizontal growth. Our great northern fungus fields have proved to be an obstacle to establishing additional bases since the fungus is so wide spread and the complete lack of territory our people can establish upon. But, the exploration of two anomalies produced both a hydroponics farm and a nutrient lode, which is where Library of Planet was established a few years ago. The second and more important locations are the Monsoon Jungle. This is an area of unknown size but large potential and, as far as we know, it is unclaimed by any other faction. Up to three colonies will be established in the next few years, and with a little luck we’ll have a few mindworms to explore the rest of the territory. This area is by all reports extraordinarily productive and should give large growth regardless of our social models. The primary problem will be bureaucracy and social stability, but we should be able to deal with these problems, also, with the proper application of resources.
“We also may be on the verge of ending our energy restrictions. This, if nothing else, will unleash our considerable potential. Until the last few decades we have focused our research on the basic understanding of Chiron, and the benefits have been significant. However, to further our progress and get our scientific rate to be better than our historic rate of a breakthrough every seven years than we must increase our energy output. Our neighbors have been useless for technology trades for the last 50 years due to their relatively slow scientific progress so there is no use exploring those avenues, except for the occasional sale or gift of technology to the Gaians and Cybernetic Consciousness.
“In conclusion, population and bases are merely a means to an end, which is scientific progress and resource extraction. We have the basic tools, and now we must use them to the best advantage.”
HIVE 2201, Central manufacturing warren of HIVE – PRIME
“Here are the plans Chairman.”
“I studied them before the meeting Zho but what I want to know is will it work?”
Zho looked over at the lead scientist who quickly stepped forward.
“It will, I assure you Chairman it will.” The scientist began. “The science is very simple, in fact, we could have accomplished the same thing on Earth if we had wanted to but all the land was either protected by environmental laws or the effects could have impacted other nations borders.”
“I see.” Yang said flatly.
“The technology, as I said is simple. We simply deploy a series of fission bombs in to key tectonic faults in a given are and detonate them. The resulting shift in the plates cause magma and earthquakes and plate uplifting to occur. In the end, we create land where there was no land.” The scientist concluded.
“What if we used such a device where an established infrastructure of buildings, farms and mines existed?” Yang asked probingly.
“It would replace them in favor of the new matrix.” The scientist replied quickly.
“The new matrix.” Yang said softly. “The new matrix.” He repeated yet again.
“Yes, the new matrix. Perhaps some cities might survive the shifts but in a much reduced capacity. I doubt we could utterly extinguish the previous matrix but it would be close.” The scientist finsished.
“Zho if we begin this project, could we shift resources if needed?” Yang asked questingly.
“Of course Chairman.”
Yang sat quietly for a while then looked over a Zho.
“Begin the missile construction at once.”
University Base, MY 2202
Getz Hoeppe looked over the statistics and whistled. “Impressive. Very impressive. The growth rates of Buran Prospect and Nauk Science Center will far outstrip anything we have to date in the University.” He looked over at the other members of the Council. “We will have to invest significantly to ensure the new bases can maintain stability. At a minimum they will need recreation commons as soon as possible.”
Zakharov nodded. “Agreed. In the meantime we will need to finish the terraformers and get them to work, get basic defenders at the base, and deliver the mindworms to explore the area.” He turned to the left. “Mr. Kline, did I hear correctly that there is another colon pod that was inadvertently constructed? Upon whose orders?”
He shifted uncomfortably. “Ours. It seems that we neglected to rescind our order for colony pod construction for the third expansion. We now have an extra colony pod at Lomonosov Park. We can either decommission it, integrate the colonists back into the base, or have it board the isle of the deep in the coming year for transport to the Jungle. Of these transport may make more sense. Then we would have four bases in the Jungle and the unknown surrounding area. There could be advantage.”
Zakharov paused. “Yes. It seems we lose little. Unless there is objection have the colonists transported to the Jungle. Will there be room for worms?”
“Yes, two worms. The can be put ashore with the colonists. In good news the empath foil has almost finished repairs and it will be able to escort the isle to the north.”
“Very good. And with the completion of these bases how many will we have?
“Seventeen, sir. All but the newest will have basic infrastructure, terraforming, and defenders. I recommend that we start the construction of new probe teams and a few mobile defenders for the new bases in the Jungle. They will be growing so quickly that we will need to divert resources to infrastructure, and our mainland bases are much better suited to constructing necessary support.”
Zakharov nodded. “Agreed. Divert construction accordingly.” He turned toward Amy Constance. “And how progresses the Superconducting Super Collider?”
“Very good. We have eight years left to completion and four supply crawlers on the way, which will be more than enough to complete the project in approximately two years. In fact, I estimate that two crawlers will be surplus, and I suggest that they be devoted toward energy harvesting. That will augment our increasing research ability. As my report advised, energy is the key to our continued progress. Most of our bases have already maximized industrial production to the limits of what the local ecology can take, so we would be well served focusing on energy at this point.”
Gregory interjected, “Unless we need support units for new bases.”
Amy nodded. “Point taken.”
HIVE 2202, NEXUS Command Center
“The attack was a success?”
“It seems so Chairman. The worms penetrated into the warrens and the Firemen were forced to fight in small groups rather than in a team. They were able to repulse the attack but in doing so they were either killed or so badly wounded they are out of action.”
Yang balled up his fists and pressed them on the holo-table so hard that they began to damage the plas-screen projector.
“They base just finished equipping and training a trance laser equipped Fireman brigade but it wont be deployed until next turn. I think they should be able to handle the remaining worm mass.” Yazov said shakily.
“You think or do you know.” Yang said coldly.
“I know they can.” Yazov quickly replied.
“And this spore launcher to the northeast of the base?” Yang pointed at the creature displayed on the map. “What of it?”
“We will dispatch a tanker regiment to destroy it. I have already sent orders. It will be dealt with as well, fear not Chairman.” Yazov said as he tried to muster more courage.
“See that they do.” Yang said bitterly as he looked up at Zho. “How soon will the missiles be ready?’
“We start next turn on construction. They are simple to build and we should be able to complete a missile contingent every few turns.” Zho replied confidently. He looked over at Yazov who was still irked at the idea that precious resources had been diverted from Firemen towards ‘dumb’ weapons as he put it.
“Good, very good.” Yang breathed easier. “I want them up and running as soon as possible. When not fitted with warheads they are to be equipped with the reconnaince package so we can explore more territory. I don’t like the fact we send our tankers out so far to the north to explore territory that a drone could do. Should the drones find something of importance then we can send tankers to investigate.”
Zho and Yazov nodded in agreement. The decision had been made, now it was their job to make it happen or else.