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The Rusted Crown (Evolution of the Fifty-Six’s Governing Body)

When details of King Anthony Donjou’s secret contract with Earth became public, he was forced to flee to Earth with his son Charles.  Welcomed as the monarch of a legitimate government in exile, he lived in favor on Earth until the day of his death.

The king’s married sister, Amelia Torgo, stepped in to fill the void.  Though facing heated hostility towards the monarchy, she followed protocol and abandoned her husband’s name Torgo to retake her maiden name Donjou.  In the ninth month of 3337, Amelia Torgo was named Queen Amelia Donjou.

Queen Amelia’s first act was to ratify the establishment of the first inter-planetary congress empowered with authority to overturn decisions of a monarch with 75% percent vote.  Twenty-three leading figures in Bagwell City comprised this first congress.

With public opinion now firmly behind her, Queen Amelia established tariffs on all goods being sold to Earth.  Funds collected were to repay Earth’s loans issued for the reconstruction of Bagwell City following the disastrous explosion that destroyed an eighth of the city. (See Bagwell City (Part 2))

Though support for repaying the debt was widespread, there was no consensus on how the funds should be gathered.  This conflict escalated when the Freight Forwarders Alliance, an extremely powerful shipping guild, refused to collect or facilitate collection of any tariffs.

Notes recovered from the queen’s diary reveal that a large bloc of royal advisers suggested forcing the FFA to comply with the new law, but that she fully understood the frailty of royal power.  One passage dated three days after the FFA’s refusal particularly stands out: “How am I supposed to force the FFA to comply?  Why should I?  Their concerns are legitimate.  The crown has no authority to take the money of its citizens.  Negotiation is the only way to preserve this house of cards called royal authority without establishing a security force.  I shall negotiate.”

Negotiations lasted two weeks without result despite the queen’s offer to use independently controlled escrow accounts that would pay Earth directly.  The FFA stood by its original position that the crown held no authority to collect or spend taxes, through escrow or otherwise.

However, everything changed in the fourth month of 3338 when Earth submitted an open letter of support for the FFA’s position followed by a reminder to the Twenty-Three that their rightful king remained in exile on Earth.  Within six hours of this letter, an FFA spokesman read a statement of support for the queen’s proposal.  A second statement was then delivered, chastising Earth for attempting to manipulate the Twenty-Three.

After the early chaotic months of her reign, Queen Amelia led the Twenty-Three through a peaceful period of expansion.  Under her watch, the Twenty-Three grew into thirty-two colonies.

Though success attended her professional pursuits, the queen’s personal life remained one of constant turmoil.  A small black dot on the little toe of her left foot, first thought to be a blood blister, was found to be a rare fungal disease that was spreading.  Doctors raced to perform an amputation of the foot.  Five years later another surgery removed everything below the knee, followed by the entire leg.  Time only made the disease more aggressive until the spreading passed to the right leg and left arm.  The queen’s condition was carefully shielded from the public with highly controlled appearances and state-of-the-art prosthetics.

Health issues didn’t stop Queen Amelia’s love life.  She married four times and was renowned for frequent liaisons with famous men.  She had two sons with her first husband and famously declared that home life was not a queen’s role.  After her first son committed suicide by hanging, her diary shows a change of heart and documents her attempts to bond with the second son, Jarl Torgo, but time was short and, twenty years to the day after taking the throne, in the first month of 3357, Queen Amelia Donjou passed away, leaving her only remaining son, Jarl Donjou, king.

The new young king carried ambitions far larger than his mother.  With the crown barely in place on his head, King Jarl moved to establish a sales tax on all transactions taking place inside the Thirty-Two.  Congress speedily overturned the law.  This resulted in the birth of a thinly veiled enmity between the king and congress.  When congress rejected the king’s next ordinance that all new citizens of the Thirty-Two pay a processing fee for proper documentation, the veil was torn and King Jarl issued threats of bodily harm against congress.  Congress responded by placing the king into mandatory protective custody for two weeks.

King Jarl used the time during this ‘protection’ period to sell royal endorsements for anyone willing to pay.  The king raised over thirty million triks inside of two weeks.  Within days of his release, two members of Congress were murdered in apparent robberies gone badly.  Three more congressmen resigned a week later citing health and family as reasons.  All remaining members disappeared into hiding except one man named Herbert Roland.  He allowed himself to be used as bait by hired security forces.

Sure enough, his house was burgled.  The assassin was captured but in the ensuing scuffle, the congressman was shot twice in the chest.  Despite an intense, sometimes physical interrogation, the assassin refused to confess any connection to the substantial sum of money transferred to him a week earlier.  Congressman Roland clung to life for three days, only succumbing to the injuries during a private meeting with the king at the hospital.

King Jarl immediately declared congress’ authority void and, because congress lacked the proper number of votes to form a 75% majority, the king’s declaration stood valid.  Taxes soon followed.  Protests followed the taxes.  Riots followed the protests.

When a grain refinery was threatened in the flames two weeks into the riots, there was a reverse uprising of regular citizens.  Two hundred thousand people marched through the streets with clubs.  Anyone caught damaging property was roundly beaten.  The riots sputtered after two days leaving taxes the last thing standing.

The extended planets laughed at the tax, making Bagwell City the only colony to comply.  When taxes were levied on supplies from Bagwell City, as well as Earth’s supplies flowing through the city, the colonies’ hue and cry was duly ignored.  King Jarl’s father joined the outcry and publicly denounced the king for murder and corruption.  He was arrested for high treason and found guilty by the king, who had him executed.

Armed with the influx of cash and using the riots as justification, King Jarl organized the Fifty-Six’s first permanent police force while at the same time chartering a royal protective service.  Among the many royal security recruits was Charles Donjou, son of the late refugee king Anthony Donjou.  Nine months later, King Jarl lay dead, poisoned by his own security force.

Charles Donjou made a public claim for the throne the next day.  Unfortunately for Charles, an emergency congress was already convened and he was found guilty of murder and summarily executed.  With no direct descendent to be crowned, congress declared the throne vacant until a suitable heir could be appointed.

The throne remained empty until the fourth month of 3358 when Philip Walton, brother of a leading congressman, was voted king by congress.  Philip was crowned but, on completing the ceremonious parade to the royal residence, refused entrance to the house by royal security forces – he was a king not in line of Donjou.  This started a bitter and, for the new king, embarrassing showdown.

Clothed for festivities, the members of congress convened in the street outside the residence and passed a motion disbanding royal security.  When security refused to budge, the celebrations were completed at a local wedding hall.  Two weeks later, with little hope of resolution, congress declared them trespassers and requested police intervention.

Police arrived but refused to intervene, citing royal authority, leaving congress with no choice but to capitulate.  It didn’t help that public opinion stood squarely behind the besieged royal security.  Three weeks into the standoff, congress declared the coronation of Philip Walton void.  A thorough search of the meager Donjou family tree uncovered Frank Robert, second cousin of the late king Jarl.  He was crowned King Frank Donjou in the sixth month of 3358.

Historians would later refer to this period of royal uncertainty as “Days of the Rusted Crown.”

Writing style change between ‘The Making of Legend’ & ‘Greater than Legend’

The Making of Legend has a very narrow point of view that focuses almost exclusively on Andrew. This was done intentionally. The idea was to fully explore Andrew’s character metamorphosis and, also to give the world a confined, frenetic feeling. Any moment could be his last. Looking back, I realize this might make the supporting characters seem rather pale in comparison to Andrew. But even now I probably wouldn’t change this, for the reasons below.

Greater than Legend is written from a much wider perspective. The story follows multiple character lines; good, bad and mixed. Since I’m not a fan of books with vast numbers of characters, where the sheer volume can detract from the story, there will be key characters in each circle of events.

Because the books go from ‘tight’ to ‘wide,’ there is a dramatic shift in how the universe feels from page 1 (perhaps more like page 3). The consequences of certain characters decisions now affect millions of people and not just those directly surrounding Andrew. Thus the final battles of Greater than Legend feel more…epic.

P.S. This is not a trilogy. Strictly two books. Both books can stand alone (for the most part), though reading both will give a better understanding of characters and their motivations.

Bagwell City (Part 2)

The population increase continued into the 3200’s.  The dome grew wider and new buildings replaced older, each generation growing taller.  In 3229, one of Bagwell City’s three primary life-support systems, already stretched to capacity, failed, causing a severe oxygen shortage.

Citizens went into a panic and boarded any and all spacefaring craft while city engineers attempted to balance the loss with a higher mixture of oxygen through the remaining two life-support systems.  The plan worked, sort of.  The scheme gave the other 17 eastern colonies time to mobilize an emergency flotilla of craft ranging from mineral carriers to yachts and barges.  Within 12 hours, nearly 32,000 ships were burning towards the crisis at Bagwell City.

However, the increased oxygen caused super oxidation to the second life-support system, which was an older generation model that utilized metal bearings in the air handler.  On the third day, system number two failed, escalating the crisis to a catastrophe. Two million of Bagwell City’s six million citizens remained planet-side.  Hospitals, police stations and residences of the ultra-rich, which carried their own independent life-support systems, accepted as many they could handle, yet 1.1 million people remained unprotected in the city.  Sedatives were distributed to these with instructions to return home, take the pills and sleep as much as possible until a backup system could be installed from Earth, four weeks out at the earliest.

The plan nearly worked.  Two weeks into the countdown, with the eyes of the 21 colonies and Earth riveted on Bagwell City, an explosion ripped through the city, simultaneously destroying an eighth of the city and ripping a gaping hole in the semi-solid fabric that made up the dome.  One million one hundred thousand people died in minutes.  Experts concur that the explosion was caused by a super-transport carrying grain.  It’s speculated that in the rush to escape the city, a crew member forgot to properly cool the grain and the subsequent methane buildup caused the explosion.  This cannot be proven however.  The only thing known for sure is that the super-transport was the epicenter of the explosion which left Bagwell City devastated.

Despite the wide rift between Earth and the colonies dating back to the starvation crisis, Earth offered vast sums, materials and manpower to assist in the rebuilding effort.  King Anthony Donjou initially rejected the offer, but abruptly changed tack after three days of intense private discussions.  Earth fulfilled its promise, and re-construction of Bagwell City was fast-tracked.  Eight years later, details of the deal became public.  The colonies were required to pay back all funds issued by Earth at twenty percent interest until contract maturation (20 years).  Earth was also to receive exploratory rights in the colonies with first claims to mineral discoveries for a 99 year term.

The colonies might have accepted these two conditions, had the third and most galling demand remained hidden.  The contract stipulated the creation of a central bank with power to regulate colonial currency and debt.  The bank’s committee members could be selected from the colonies, but the chairman would always be appointed by Earth.  The result of this disclosure was an outright mutiny against all provisions of the contract.  Regardless, King Anthony pressed onward in fulfilling the obligations, including, without reservation, the central bank.

Public opinion reached a crescendo when a public vote to block all aspects of the agreement was struck down by King Anthony, who declared that his was the sole voice of authority, as stipulated in the creation of the monarchy.  A second vote passed which saw the creation of an inter-planetary congress, composed of representatives from each planet in the 21 colonies (18 eastern colonies and 3 central colonies).  These representatives were granted authority to overturn a king’s decision with 75 percent ratification.  This vote was also rendered invalid by King Anthony.

Far from accepting his rejection, citizens launched a revolt against King Anthony.  Police and security forces joined the citizens and King Anthony was forced to flee Bagwell City for Earth where he was welcomed as a government in exile until the day of his death.  After King Anthony’s departure, his sister, Amelia Donjou, became queen.  She was the first female regent of the colonies.  Her first act was to ratify the establishment of an inter-planetary congress.

Queen Amelia also advocated that Earth be repaid every last cent provided for reconstruction.  Her position was at first unpopular until she declared in a speech, “It’s said one should owe no man anything but love.  Personally, I believe we should owe Earth nothing but hatred.”  This earned her the nickname “Fire Eye” along with the intense loyalty of the colonies.  In the ninth month of 3337, Queen Amelia formally granted Congress authority to impose tariffs on exports to Earth.  These funds were used to repay the debt owed Earth.

From the ashes of the explosion, and the maneuverings of Earth, a larger, more durable, Bagwell City rose.  The original spire was replaced with a massive tower that reached 12,000 feet into the sky and burrowed 3,000 feet into the ground.  Unlike the original “spire,” this new tower featured 210 stories of living space above ground and 111 stories underground.  This is the same “Spire” we now know as military central command which still dominates Bagwell City’s skyline.

Bagwell City (Part 1)

Bagwell City holds several unique honors in the Fifty-Six: oldest city, largest city, highest concentration of universities, highest per capita income, highest tax rate, highest crime rate, highest murder rate, slowest growth rate.

The story started in 2895 when Kenzie Bagwell orbited above the newly ordained planet Bagwell.  He was tasked with establishing an expandable outpost large enough to support three humans for a year.  After two weeks, he settled on a hilly depression, quarter way to the northern pole.  The location provided protection from orbital debris, while offering level ground for substantial expansion.

Step two involved the three supply craft which accompanied Kenzie from Earth.  These craft carried the foundation pieces of the outpost.  After four days of careful calculation, Kenzie launched a “spire” at Bagwell’s surface.  The spire was nothing more than a massive pole that was meant to embed itself into the planet, allowing modules to anchor.  The second supply craft then landed on top of the pole and unfolded into a dome resembling an ancient teepee. Touchdown of the third and final craft unleashed a host of robots that began smoothing concrete onto the surface under the dome.  Finally, Kenzie landed with food, water and life-support systems.

Three months later, Kenzie was joined by three more ships, none of which contained humans.  The first ship carried a fresh batch of robotic builders, while the remaining two contained components for a substantial dome upgrade.  Similar shipments followed every third day for 18 days until all the pieces were assembled and Kenzie’s work began.  Upon completion, the spire reached eight hundred feet into the sky and the dome diameter spread over one mile.  In 2896, one year and several days after first landing, Kenzie greeted his first human companions.

The scientific community grew steadily, albeit slowly, over the next four years until 2900 when Richard Vergo, financier of Earth’s E-prop, unveiled a new, larger E-prop.  Bagwell’s dome was again expanded and life-support capacity was increased.  After Bulwark seized control of the E-prop from Richard Vergo in 2905, Bagwell city witnessed an exponential growth in essential (scientific and construction) and civilian personnel.

By 2999, the population of Bagwell City was pushing one million and intra-city transportation was becoming a major issue.  The original outpost plans never included businesses, food stations or entertainment centers and certainly didn’t allow for efficiently moving a million people around the city.  King Emile Donjou, son of Adrien Donjou, opened a 7-day forum of concepts for all citizens to submit their ideas.  The top three were chosen by a body of engineers and included an underground subway, an underground road system and the belt.

It isn’t recorded who proposed the belt, but the idea won by a wide margin.  Based upon the concept of a conveyor belt, first commercialized in 1892 by Thomas Robins, Bagwell City’s belt was enhanced for personnel transportation in an urban environment.  Five conveyor belts were stretched side by side, running at incrementally faster speeds, allowing users to step up a belt and pass slower riders.

On New Year’s Day, 3000, as the clock struck, ushering in a new millennium, there were wild celebrations as ground was broken.  Three years and two expansions of the dome later, Bagwell City was equipped with a rapid transit system capable of speeds up to 16 km/h.

Formation of the 18 Colonies (Part 2)

With Bagwell City reaching a population of nearly two hundred thousand in three years, expansion raced ahead full sprint.  Fifteen ship building companies opened their doors in Bagwell City, along with twenty-five thousand new companies building ships on Earth.  Every business with available capital spent excessively for the dual benefit of being on the cutting edge and of finding new resources.

By 2910, eighteen planets had colonies of varying sizes as well as countless outposts for mineral harvesting.  Though the planets were settled, they were still mostly extensions of Bagwell City since food, resources and a majority of manufacturing tools were imported through the city from Earth.  The inter-dependence of the planets was to be sorely tested in the coming days.

In the last month of 2910, an unexpected solar flare wiped out all automated charting bots and early warning systems.  Two weeks later, a massive meteor storm-swept through Bagwell City’s drop zone, curling around the planet and bombarding the unpopulated side.

For four weeks, Adrien Donjou, the unofficial head of Bagwell City, sent requests to Bulwark for food.  His requests were denied.  In the third week, when it became clear that Earth would not send relief, Donjou implemented drastic cuts to rations.  Another week passed till first estimates from planet based scanners showed the meteors would continue at least 3 more months.  Adrien Donjou sent one final request to Earth.  The request was denied and he boarded a ship and flew through meteors for the E-prop.

He somehow survived and made it to Earth, where he pled and threatened for Bulwark to do something.  An excerpt from his now famous speech is below.

“When men cower behind the word “impossible,” dreams turn to nightmares.  When “impossible” causes the death of another human, nightmares turn to reality.  If Earth fails to act now, when starvation stares down its 18 colonies – my friends and family – your nightmares will be haunted by the reality of our deaths.”

~ Adrien Donjou, 12-30-2910, Speech before Bulwark General Assembly

The speech was leaked to the public and it was later calculated that within six hours, one-quarter of the globe had watched Donjou’s appeal for assistance.  Assistance is what he received.  Countless corporate sponsors, as well as billions of individual donors fitted out a fleet of twelve freight carriers with food and supplies.  Thousands of pilots volunteered to return with Donjou; eleven were chosen.

Witnessing the global outpouring of support, the General Assembly called an emergency session that night and passed an immediate measure of support.  By the time they adjourned, Donjou and his small fleet of heroes were racing for the E-prop; if they could reach the dock before it popped, they would avoid a three-day wait.

When the ships dropped out of Fate Wait four weeks later, they clustered together and made for Bagwell City.  Three ships were destroyed by meteors, but their flattened frames shielded the remaining nine which safely arrived.

Donjou was greeted by a ghost town on his arrival.  The relay repeater, which was mounted to the E-prop, had been swept away by the meteors.  No one in Bagwell City was aware of what transpired on Earth; no one knew supplies were inbound.  He also learned something even more incredible.  Though already low on supplies, the people of Bagwell City scraped together shipments of food and sent it to the outer 17 colonies.

After the meteor storm passed, Earth re-established contact and poured in supplies.  The damage was done, however, and the colonies voted to establish a monarchy, entirely independent of Earth’s influence, and Adrien Donjou was the first king.  All future negotiations between the colonies and Earth would be handled by him.

Earth rejected the colonies’ right to autonomous rule and sent delegates to demand that Adrien Donjou publicly denounce the position.  Far from complying, Donjou refused to allow the delegates permission to land.  They were forced to return to Earth.  Bulwark was infuriated and sent two warships in the early part of 2911.  They forced a landing, stormed the city, and took Donjou prisoner to face charges of treason on Earth.

The charges were never made.  Public outcry on Earth forced Bulwark to back down.  The colonies were also threatening to suspend all mineral shipments, forever, unless Donjou was returned immediately.  After three tense days, Adrien Donjou was again on his way to the colonies.  When he arrived, there were loud calls for an immediate separation from Earth, barring essential shipments.

In his first public speech as king, Donjou rejected these demands but, at the same time, he laid out a plan for the colonies to provide for themselves.  Panache was pinpointed as a planet with fertile soil capable of growth which needed to be exploited.  The effort was begun with enthusiasm.  Within two years, Panache was supplying enough food for the 18 colonies, with excess.  In wake of the meteor famine of 2910, laws were passed that no food could ever be sold to Earth.  At the time, the law was symbolic, but now it carried weight, and none of the excess was exported.

His vision was rewarded with a concerted effort over the next 30 years to create a self-sustaining economy.  The efforts were so successful that by 2933 analysts calculated only half of the colonial economy was supplied by Earth.

Displeased with the extreme, anti-Earth approach of the colonies, Bulwark reacted when Adrien Donjou proposed the implementation of a colonial security force.  An embargo was placed on weapons of any kind.  Donjou responded with a scathing speech to Earth about their heavy-handed approach and openly questioned what gave them the right to dictate policy in the 18 colonies.  The speech resulted in an expansion of the embargo to include minerals needed for weapons like: metal, carbon elements and chromic acid (required for weapon-grade metal purification).

Instead of backing down, Donjou escalated the tit-for-tat and called for a vote to separate in all but commercial trade from Bulwark’s influence.  The vote passed with 87% support.  When asked if separation from Earth was Donjou’s plan from the beginning, he refused to answer.  Historians have combed through every correspondence to find some clue as to his intentions, but the only definitive fact that can be gleaned is that he was completely disgusted by Bulwark’s refusal to prevent mass starvation.  It’s probably fair to assume, but not definitively known, that this event shaped his future actions.

Again, “Dirty Merchants” resurfaced and transported the banned substances through the embargo and, again, Earth branded them pirates.  It’s a testament to their efficiency that the embargo remained in place for over a hundred years, yet the effects were never felt.  The weapons were designed by the thousands of engineers and scientists sent by Earth in the early settlement days.  When the embargo was finally lifted, the Dirty Merchants didn’t disappear but formed a secret group which we now know as the Emporium.

The first test of the monarchy came in 2987 during the dust storm on Wakowee.  Adrien Donjou ordered marines to clear civilians from the storm’s path and take them into orbit.  Several families refused to move and opened fire on the marines.  The marines returned fire and, in the end, thirteen miners and two marines were dead.  The clash became known as the Dust Bowl Conflict.  When the king gave his speech, he called a moment of silence for “the fine duster boys and their sacrifice.”  The name stuck and marines have since carried the nickname “Duster Boys.”

King Adrien Donjou died the next day at the age of 132.

Formation of the 18 Colonies (Part 1)

In 2880, Markus Ellington traveled to Earth’s capital, Bulwark, for a meeting with the Committee of Spatial Exploration.  He carried with him a small, 3-foot circular model which he used to respectfully request funds for the construction of a dock that would unlock “the next age of space.”  He explained how such a dock, called “Electron Cavitational Propulsion Slip,” would work.  An hour later he received a rejection with the final board vote: 1-7.  Following the vision of Bulwark’s new president, the committee was more interested in technology that would further plans for an orbital elevator.

The single dissenting vote on the board had a different vision.  His name was Roger Vergo, a self-made billionaire in the communications industry who had turned to politics.  He approached Markus in private and, over drinks, offered to fund the entire project.  In return he wanted majority decision-making and fifty-percent of the profit from all future revenues.  The men shook hands.

Three years later, in 2883, the first dock was successfully launched.  It lacked thrusters, stabilizers or a known destination point.  Two heavily modified barges held the one hundred foot contraption locked in place.  Another six months passed before the first payload, a 3-foot communications beacon, was launched to high public anticipation.  Hours passed and then days.  In that short window of time, Ellington and Vergo became the target of joke by comedians and politicians around the globe.  They were ridiculed as examples of why government oversight was beneficial for distribution of public funds.

Six weeks after launch, a message was received: static.  To celebrate, Roger Vergo hosted four massive parties across the globe, using the platform to publicly un-invite his critics.  It was later claimed, by Roger, that over one hundred million people celebrated the successful launch that night.

Fifteen years passed before Markus Ellington gave his OK for a human test launch.  The dock was on its third iteration and featured externally mounted, remotely controlled thrusters.  A volunteer named Kenzie Bagwell was launched to the planet we now call Bagwell.  Three loaded supply craft accompanied him and, after landing on Bagwell’s surface, established its first human colony.

Roger Vergo died of a brain hemorrhage hours before the first human launch, surrounded by his family in the command center, awaiting the countdown.  After the first launch, shipments became more frequent as essential supplies and personnel were added to the small outpost on Bagwell; quickly enough, several transports were being scheduled for every third day.  They were limited to every third day because the dock was not yet able to follow the electron charge along its defined course and had to wait for its return path.

In 2898, disaster struck.  Stabilizing thrusters on the E-prop malfunctioned and a ship carrying three scientists was torn in half.  Government regulators stepped in, requiring safety checks before each flight.  Another six months passed and metal fatigue led to a second incident, though this one narrowly avoided casualties.  Regulators returned and this time implemented quarterly structure scans.

Roger Vergo’s son, Richard Vergo, strenuously fought these controls, claiming everything that could be done was being done, that public deaths were not in their interest, and that government controls were unnecessary and hindered future advancements.  While these battles were being fought in court, Richard funded construction of Markus’ larger, re-designed E-prop.  One quarter of the way through construction, Bulwark’s Spatial Exploration Committee demanded that construction plans be submitted to regulators for approval before construction could continue.

Richard rejected these demands and pressed on with construction.  He was found to be in contempt and imprisoned for 90 days until he agreed to their demands.  The plans were inspected and approved; construction continued.  Another six months passed before the new dock was unveiled on New Year’s 2900.

In 2905, government officials began investigating Richard Vergo for abusing a monopoly.  After a very public, two-year fight, price controls were placed on all shipments.  Richard responded by permanently closing the dock to future shipments, except vital supplies for current personnel on Bagwell.  The government in Bulwark responded by declaring the E-prop vital to global development and seized control.

Markus Ellington stood by his business partner and refused to cooperate.  Within days, he was imprisoned on charges of sabotaging a vital part of global infrastructure.  He died of a heart attack a week later at the age of 60.  It remains unknown whether the charges of sabotage were true.

With Bulwark now pouring public funds into development, the expanded E-prop being built by Richard Vergo was scrapped, and a replacement three times larger took its place.  Development began in earnest, and tens of thousands of engineers, scientists and construction workers poured into the burgeoning Bagwell Colony.

Within three years the colony was upgraded to city status and non-essential personnel were allowed to inhabit the newly christened Bagwell City.  More than any previous attempts of the past two hundred years, the colonization of a distant planet bonded Earth, healing wounds still open from the “Stillbirth” of 2634.  It also provided disgruntled citizens with a new outlet.  Human trafficking became the number one black market activity in the world.  The more Bulwark attempted to lock down the trade, the more creative smugglers became.  The pinnacle of the movement is best exemplified by the story of 1,500 people hiding away inside a grain shipment for the entire four-week period of Fate Wait.  Another prime example was discovered a hundred years after the movement in a scrap yard.  A ship was found with an engine half hollowed out to allow for human contraband.  The ship is still available for viewing at Bagwell City Museum.

These first generation smugglers were branded pirates by Bulwark.  Proud of their new-found status, the “pirate” captains took to calling themselves “Dirty Merchants.”

Is it Nude, or is it NEWD?

“Command, President Burns is dead.”

Those five words initiated the arms revolution of the early 2400’s.

In 2398, President Burns of the North American Alliance was shot, and killed, in the first recorded fatality from a portable, wave-based weapon.  His death sparked a global arms race not seen since the two world wars of the 1900’s.

Uboksho Hedrik Moshif was captured later that day attempting to flee, disguised as a woman.  Nine months later he was convicted and executed for the murder.  No political affiliation was ever uncovered, nor was any highlighted by the prosecution throughout the highly publicized, three-month trial.  Twenty years later he was exonerated posthumously based on ‘new’ evidence that was previously “missing.”  This did more than validate his final words, which were “I am innocent” but also gave rise to countless conspiracy theories as to the true killer.

Whether guilty or innocent, Uboksho was a small pebble that caused an Avalanche which, once started, wouldn’t stop for over a hundred years.  His name, Moshif, meant “first pain” in Swarzo.  The next century’s global war would become known as the “First Pains”, which were followed the next century by the “Second Pains” and, finally, the “Stillbirth” devastation in 2634. (See Chapter 31: The Great Stillbirth)

The use of a wave weapon was not special, since they had been in use for over a hundred years; however the portability of the weapon, along with the fact that it literally burned a hole through President Burns, was revolutionary.  Every major power on Earth devoted massive resources to the development of portable wave-based weapons, considered to be the replacement of projectile based weapons.

At the same time the global weapons race heated up, another began – the armor race.  With every generation of arms came a new generation of personal armor meant to counter the effects.

Mark Neilson was already way ahead of the game when it came to personal armor.  In his early life he was a marine scientist and undersea explorer before turning to the technical side of sea exploration.  His first development was the “Kraken,” a high pressure, high flexibility, low support, deep-sea body suit.  When funding for his research company disappeared following a failed demonstration in which a volunteer died, he adapted the suit for personal defense.  The “Kraken” became “Mjornir,” named after the hammer of the Norse god Thor.  Mark Neilson believed that the best offense was a great defense, making his armor the best weapon available.

The first version of Mjornir, released in 2421, was a complete body suit, similar in form to armor worn by medieval knight.  It used multiple layers of gel-filled cells to provide protection against as many as three shots.  This was soon outdated due to the introduction of rapid-fire wave weapons.  The suit lacked mobility as well.

A second version, codenamed “Golden Fleece” after the mythical Greek explorer Jason, was a hyper leap in technology.  It was comprised of two (much more flexible) layers.  The first layer detected the strength and rotational frequency of the incoming weapon wave and the second layer matched that frequency, nullifying the wave’s effect, as one might cancel a sound wave.  Hasty deployment and premature release of this cutting edge armor resulted in three hundred twenty Fatalities; the armor was temporarily scrapped.  The problem stemmed from the armor’s vulnerability to simultaneous waves.  Armor nullified the first wave as designed but the following tore through unhindered.  Even worse, the armor only worked in a narrow temperature range, due to the effects of thermal distortion on waves.

The Golden Fleece was modified and re-released two years later in 2426 and became known as the “Golden Geese” because it went away for a time, only to return later.  Thermal issues were superficially addressed with a spray on insulation coat to the outside of the armor.  However, the underlying thermal issues still existed, and re-appeared if the insulation burned off in combat.

For effectiveness against multiple simultaneous shots, the armor was split into thousands of tiny cells which worked independently of each other.  This allowed the Golden Geese to absorb a vast amount of synchronized damage.  However, the benefits came at a cost – massive power consumption.  The armor was scrapped for personnel due to this requirement; however, it did find a home, temporarily, with armored vehicles and emergency outposts.

Weapon advancements again took predominance with the development of quad-bore designs.  This technology split standard wave frequencies into 4 channels and “twisted” them.  The result: amplified power and resistance to cancellation.

To counter this, Mark Neilson changed his entire armor approach, again.  This would be his final contribution to the revolution before his death.  He ditched his previous full body models in favor of a lightweight, flexible, cloth-like material which was formed into tiny, microscopic triangles.  When a wave impacted the triangles, energy was funneled into the cavities.  This allowed the interconnected triangles to dissipate the heat over a wide area of the body.  While the new model offered flexibility, it sacrificed the massive damage resistance of the clunky, heavy frames.  Unfortunately, Mark Neilson died before final production and he never saw its release later that year in 2431.  He was 82 years old and father of seven children, twelve grandchildren, and thirty great-grandchildren, as well as patriarch (or father) of the armor revolution.  The armor was named NEWD (Neilson Energy Wave Depressor) in his honor.

Though the core purpose of armor remains the same today as the early 2400’s, differences between the two are infinite.  Earth’s entire power structure changed in 2748 with the discovery by Joris Elbert of an alternative energy “popping” everywhere.  That discovery led to changes in wave-based weapons (MDUs) to target every spectrum, including, heat, blunt trauma and myogenic resonance (cellular misfiring).  Defense against blunt trauma is the easiest, while myogenic resonance poses difficulties mainly because an entire body cannot be covered.  Protection against heat has been, and probably always will be, the most difficult to provide.  Like the rotation of water molecules in ancient microwaves…the heat generated by a wave must be channeled somewhere.  The general rule of thumb is: the heavier and thicker the armor, the more protection it provides.

Because early variations of the flexible armor were skin-colored, the nickname “nudies” became quite popular.  Over time, the official name regained predominance and has survived – over a thousand years and hundreds of armor advancements – to this day.

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