Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2017, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part XLIV: Edgeward
Continued from the previous excerpt
8 Fourthmonth 555JR (2356 CE)
Between the Escape and the War, most colonization had occurred Coreward of Sol System, and much still did. After the defeat of the Empire, the Edgeward stars were opened, but most had been ignored for two Terran centuries while the Empire consolidated itself and built its war machine. Now, Edgeward was a region of opportunity.
New Halifax was a good example. It was Terra-type, mostly; the gravity was just over 13 meters, making it heavier than most which could support Common Life. The equatorial regions were hotter than most life could withstand, but between 30 and 70 degrees latitude was hospitable; the polar ice caps were small and annual, following the axial tilt. A lot of the biosphere was poisonous but enough wasn't. Homesteaders flocked to the world, carving from wilderness something of their very own.
The first portion of Aurora's cargo from Anvil was delivered here, going to the orbital fabberies. The space thus emptied was refilled with consumer electronics and refined superconductors, to be delivered further out, to worlds even less developed. The Family didn't land on the surface; not many visitors did. A linked pair of twin O'Neill Cylinders, recently finished, served instead, and also attracted colonists unable to cope with the surface weight.
The Cylinders were each 2 kilometers in diameter and ten long, spinning to produce 9.81 meters of acceleration on the inner surface: One Terran gravity. The interiors weren't entirely finished yet, but their atmospheres were, a Terran-standard blend, pressure about 300 meters above sea level, 22 degrees, perfect humidity - an endless artificial spring.
Anna was young, but had matured much in the two years since her attempted kidnapping and murder. She and Solomon found a quiet, empty little grove of trees and slowly, gently, began to explore each other.
Delilah, too, continued recovering from her trauma. She, more bluntly, ordered a room and took Ralph by the hand.
22 Fourthmonth 555JR
Cervantes was an independent world settled by Latinos, most of them claiming hidalgo status. Like Albion, their intended monarchy had collapsed, but instead of a republic, a reformed constitutional monarchy had taken its place, and the world still had an aristocracy. Following the examples of the Russian Star Empire, pre-collapse Nowy Kraków, and now Illyria, the “noble” ranks could be worked, or bought, into by those not born to them.
It was another Terra-type world, though warmer and drier than average. There was a smaller proportion of water, closer to half than Terra's three-quarters, and much of the equatorial land was desert, but the middle latitudes were tropical up past fifty-five degrees. Like Mars and New Israel, there were occasional efforts to increase the world's water content with guided comet impacts. Too much water was rarely a problem for Common Life, more worried about the opposite.
Cervantiards didn't wear much clothing on their warm planet, which was often distracting to foreigners. Though not a Republic world, Republic medicine was fully available, including gene therapy, and few Humans on Cervantes were unattractive.
Aurora delivered more cargo here, electronics from New Halifax, remaining True-Terran produce not sold at Marseille, more raw conductors from Anvil for Cervantes' own fabberies. Her outgoing cargo was art glassware - Cervantes was not short of sand - and alien lumber not grown on other worlds. As before at Sylvan, she could not take the longest pieces, but smaller lengths for furniture, gunstocks, and decorative paneling would fit in her shuttles and holds.
19 Fifthmonth 555JR
Oriskany was a contrast. Though, on a map, she had as much land and open water as Cervantes, she was actually mostly swamp. The world was a Republic Territory, sparsely settled. Like Alpine it was a destination for hunt-tourists, but instead of plains and arctic species, Oriskany featured large sauroids. Most were too big to make practical trophies, but images served. Prrg, with only a spear, brought down a charging carnivore not much smaller than the Type 347 shuttles which served as Aurora's Two and Three Boats, originally designed for a squad of infantry. Nearly five tons of meat were recovered and Aurora's cryopantry overflowed into the main cargo holds yet again.
While at Oriskany, word came of more awards for the Family. Aurora and Jenny Blain shared the year's Collier Trophy, which dated to nearly a Terran century before the Escape. Originally American, after Liberation it had been revived after a centuries-long hiatus and transformed into a Republic award. The trophy was for their development and testing of the Sixth-Generation-Improved Marsten Drive, the first real improvement in hyperspace performance in about sixty Monticellan years. Ship and Engineer now had their names on the same GalPedia page as Burt Rutan, Chuck Yeager, the Apollo 11 crew, and (retroactively) Rachel Marsten herself.
Prrg and Sarah Heusner both received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their navigation and piloting. Normally a military award, there was precedent in pre-Escape America for civilian recipients, such as Amelia Earhart and the Wright Brothers. Prrg had taken an officer track and been discharged, like Ralph Vatelius, as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade; he received a third bar as a permanent Reserve rank. Heusner was offered and accepted a direct Reserve commission as Warrant Officer.
Gunner Cates, leader of many of the boarding-and-clearing teams over RAS1441, was authorized to wear a star over her Combat Infantry Badge, indicating a second enemy faced in combat, though she would choose not to, still considering the first award invalid. Being officially Retired, she had some latitude and wasn't required to appear in uniform anyway. However, despite her Retirement, she also received the Bronze Star with “Combat V” device, as did many of the Marks' World volunteers who joined her in the boarding actions. Not least for propaganda purposes, the Republic listed her as Inactive Reserve, like her Captain. She didn't mind, and finally lost the guilt she felt for wearing the CIB after the raid on Nowy Kraków. Prrg was also awarded the Bronze Star and the CIB for the same actions. His Citizenship had been earned through the Patrol (Navy), and the CIB wasn't usually awarded to naval personnel, but there was precedent for Hospital Corpsmen and that was close enough. The two branches of the Republic's military claimed several honors and traditions from the four American branches and smooshed them together.
Daisuke Taniyama could not openly claim Takeo Nakayama's military service record. He received the Legion of Valor, a civilian award closely equivalent to the Bronze Star. In the Republic, the line between “civilian” and “military” was often blurred.
12 Sixthmonth 555JR
Between the Escape and the Isolation, many inhabitants of Scotland had emigrated to the Republic, and had preserved something of their culture, indeed rebuilding much of it from centuries of English oppression. During the Republic-Empire War, their descendants formed Legio XXI, the Free Scots Legion, and gave legendary service against the Terran Empire. After the Jeffersonian reconquest of Sol System, a handful of Terran nations were granted independence. One was Old Scotland, as an extension of the Republic of Caledonia, an entire planet given in payment to the Free Scots and the Scottish Resistance who secured the Republic's first beacheads.
Caledonia was a fine Terra-type planet in its own right, but Scots have always been known for wanderlust and exploration. After the War, official and unofficial efforts to colonize new Scottish worlds were undertaken. Ballantrae was one. It was yet another attempt at monarchy, and like Illyria or the Russian Star Empire, had succeeded somewhat. Their nobility could be entered by merit or by payment to the crown, and there were strong Constitutional protections for commoners. Following the Jeffersonian lesson, there was a general right to bear arms, including armed ships. Their current Queen, Rose II of Clan Pennycook, ruled lightly in most matters and was considered a friend to the people and guardian of their liberties. There was a national Constabulary but they doubled as the planetary militia. They were rarely armed in non-military duties and had few of the formerly-traditional police powers - that lesson had been taken from the early history of New Texas and the severed head of “governor” Thaddeus Webb.
Ballantrae was also a Terra-type world, variously beautiful with all manner of climate and terrain. They had a significant Eyani population - many post-War worlds did - but interestingly, these had formed three officially-recognized Clans of their own. An Eyani Harness had many cultural similarities to a Scottish tartan. The Eyani of Ballantrae wore both in one.
7 Firstmonth 556JR
29 November 2356CE
Finally the Family arrived at the world Trllbl had chosen.
“Shambhala” was the name of a mythical kingdom in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, a place of eternal peace and beauty. The colonists had chosen the name in the hope it would be prophetic, and because it sounded nice.
The reality was different, but Trllbl was not disappointed. There was beauty here, as on any world which could host Common Life - the starker beauty of glaciers and deserts and mountains, the more welcoming sights of deep forests and broad plains, warm tropics and mysterious jungles. Peace... was harder to find, on a Frontier world not long inhabited, but the vigor of the place, fresh and raw, was exhilarating. Some parts were ugly - forest clearing for lumber for construction - but these were limited to islands, or isolated inner regions which the world would reclaim almost as fast as the equipment was removed. Much had been learned about intelligent resource management since the Escape. Adams' World, one of the First Wave, had set many an example.
Buddhists had come here, trying to make their legend reality. A vast temple complex, intended to exceed even Angkor Wat, was under construction, but slowly, using a curious blend of modern and preindustrial methods - stones were quarried from several parts of the world and transported by air or even suborbitals, then shaped and fitted with hand tools. The project was expected to take generations, the work itself a monastic calling.
Yet there was modernity here. A Torus had been constructed in high orbit, smaller wheel stations nearer the planet. A Water-Tribe Eyani community had grown on a certain island chain, coexisting with Boksi and, in not too many years, probably Glaut. “Cities” were on the Jeffersonian model, sprawled, roadless, with few towers and little infrastructure, individual buildings independently supplied and powered. Population was still under three million.
Aurora had been collecting a shipment of new or used fabbers along the way and delivered them all here, in brisk public auction. Their new owners set them to work at once, making labor robots, proper tools, and of course more fabbers.
Cargo delivered, Standing Order One was fulfilled, the ship refueled and provisioned for the next Transit, made and kept ready for immediate departure. Like modern tankers, Aurora's refit at Wilson's Colony had added equipment to process comet-ice into hydrogen fuel, but it was simpler to buy service from a local tanker - in fact it was paid for in barter, one of the fabbers and a tune-up for the other Shipfolk Family's vessel. This done, the Family took another vacation.
Mountains were climbed, oceans swum, forests and glaciers and deserts beheld. Another half-thousand hours were passed in rest, free of responsibility and duty. Ralph and Delilah moved in together.
Anna and Solomon didn't... yet. She remained hesitant, still feeling the weight of a crown she might never wear. Solomon did not press, happy simply for as much of her company as she chose to give.
Continued in the next excerpt....