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Bagwell City (Part 2)

July 26, 2011

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.

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