by Max Barry

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History of La Paz de Los Ricos, Volume VIII [2085 - 2118]


History of La Paz de Los Ricos
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVolume VIIIIXXXI


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▤ La Paz de Los Ricos ▤
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Contents

Volume I

1:1 Geologic History
1:2 Pre-Columbian History
- 1:2.1 Polynesian Colonization
1:3 European Colonization
1:4 The Breakaway War
1:5 Independence & 18th Century
- 1.5.1 Berto, el Hierro de Castillos
- 1.5.2 Joaquim de Castillos' Death
1:6 Mario Matrus & Sect of the Law
- 1:6.1 Ten Parties of Exploration


2:1 First Reunification War
2:2 Second Reunification War


3.1 Reunification War's Aftermath
3.2 Pax Septima
- 3.2.1 The Subinsul Plan
- 3.2.2 Creation of Novodoman
- 3.2.3 Rise in Patriotism
3.3 Pax Septima's Decline
- 3.3.1 Dama͑n, el Castillo Dorado
- 3.3.2 Berto, el Hierro de Castillos' Death
- 3.3.3 The Fall from Grace
3.4 The Second Breakaway War

4.1 20th Century
- 4.1.1 The Breakaway Scandal
4.2 Disbanding Once Islas
- 4.2.1 Southern Outer Isles Independence
- 4.2.2 Siete Islas' Reformation
- 4.2.3 Neo-Insurrectionism
4.3 Widespread Revolution
4.4 The Third Reunification War
4.5 Rebuilding Siete Islas
4.6 Republican Ideals
4.7 The Second World War


5.1 Second World War's Aftermath
- 5.1.1 The Reintegration
5.2 Pax Ricana
- 5.2.1 Northern Outer Isles Purchase
5.3 Quince Isles
5.4 Ricano Composition
- 5.4.1 Ricano Reforms
- 5.4.2 Fluidity Accords
- 5.4.3 National Alias and Flag
- 5.4.4 The Crescendo
5.5 La Paz de Los Ricos
- 5.5.1 Ricano Renaissance
- 5.5.2 Transition of Cultures
5.6 21st Century
- 5.6.1 Antre Kino͑no
- 5.6.2 Ruma̹s Kansena͑s
- 5.6.3 Triangular Governship
5.7 Girante Palica͑ Terror Attack
- 5.7.1 Attack's Aftermath
5.8 Creation of Treangolism
5.9 Treangolist Triultarchy


6:1 Treangolism's Early Effects
- 6:1.1 As the 21st Century Went On
6:2 An Eye on the Stars
- 6:2.1 Achieved Missions
6:3 The Race to Mars
- 6:3.1 The Trialt Takes Notice
- 6:3.2 Splitting the Focus & Developing
the Ricano Space Commission

- - 6:3.2,2 The Ricano Reconstruction Suite
- - 6:3.2,1 The Mars Contact Suite
- 6:3.3 Further Mars Landings
- 6:3.4 Ricano Space Rush
- - 6:3.4,1 Private Sector Enters the Rush
- 6:3.5 Setting Foot on Mars
- 6:3.6 Los Ricos Catches Up
- - 6:3.6,1 2045 Ricano General Elections
- 6:3.7 Ricano Omniflight Agency
- 6:3.8 The Nation Achieves Spaceflight


7:1 The Scramble for Mars
- 7:1.1 Straining the Outer Space Treaty
- 7:1.2 The Excelsior Pact
7:2 The Space Revolution
- 7:2.1 The Normalization of Spaceflight
- 7:2.2 Interplanetary and Interstellar
Ambitions

- 7:2.3 Expanding Martian Colonization
7:3 Getting Ricanos to Mars
- 7:3.1 Project Further
- 7:3.2 Ricano Manned Mission to Mars
- 7:3.3 La Tierra Más Allá
7:4 Developing Mars
- 7:4.1 Prospects of Terraforming Mars
7:5 Humanity Reaches Further Out
- 7:5.1 Project Roundtrip
- 7:5.1 The Hiker Program
- 7:5.2 Hiker Launches
- 7:5.3 Ricano Fears


8:1 End Of The 21st Century
- 8:1.1 Hiker Completes Her Mission
- 8:1.2 Complexes on Mars
- 8:1.3 Terraforming Mars - Deploying
Green's Gimmick

- 8:1.4 Disunion in La Paz de Los Ricos
- 8:1.5 The Splitview Incident
8:2 The Fourth Reunification War
- 8:2.1 Early Skirmishes
- 8:2.2 Fighting Eases & Truce
- 8:2.3 Difficult Discussion
8:3 Dawn of the 22nd Century
- 8:3.1 Terraforming Mars - Atmosphere
Thickening

- 8:3.2 Hiker's Second Mission
- 8:3.3 Hiker Launches Again
- 8:3.4 La Paz de Los Ricos Recovers
- - 8:3.4,1 Ricania Abandons Roadways
- 8:3.5 Hiker Rounds the Gas Giants
- 8:3.6 Hiker Returns Once Again


9:1 Colonizing the Rest of the System
- 9:1.2 Mercury and Venus
- 9:1.3 Asteroid Belt
- 9:1.4 Jupiter
- 9:1.5 Saturn
- 9:1.6 Uranus and Neptune
- 9:1.7 Dwarf Planets, Kuiper Belt, and
the Oort

9:2 Expanding the Hiker Program
- 9:2.1 Initial Propositions
- 9:2.2 Hiker II
- 9:2.3 Future Hikers
9:3 Ricania Tentatively Reenters Space
- 9:3.1 Creation of Tetarolism
- 9:3.2 Rejoining Excelsior
9:4 The Promise of Hiker II
- 9:4.1 Completion of the Vessel
- 9:4.2 Hiker II Launches
- 9:4.3 Reaching Ganymede
9:5 Martian Cities
- 9:5.1 Terraforming Mars - Melting The
Ice Caps

9:6 Worlds in Reach
- 9:6.1 Success on Ganymede
- 9:6.2 Hiker Fleet
- 9:6.3 Colonies On Callisto
- 9:6.4 Ambitions Elsewhere
9:7 Ricania Expands to New Worlds
- 9:7.1 Looking to Ganymede


10:1 An Interplanetary Humanity
- 10:1.1 The Distant Worlds Community
10:2 Ricania Shoots For Titan
- 10:2.1 Project Next Step
- 10:2.2 Navakusta
- 10:2.3 Navakusta Launches
- 10:2.4 Ricanos on Titan
- 10:2.5 La Tierra Nublada
10:3 End of the 22nd Century
- 10:3.1 Normalizing Asteroid Mining
- 10:3.2 Terraforming Mars - Oceans and
Waterways

- 10:3.3 Early Martian Disputes
- 10:3.4 Venutian Colonization Opportunities
- 10:3.5 Early Interstellar Tries
- 10:3.5 Ricania Reinvested In Space
- 10:3.6 Turn of the Century

End of the 21st Century


The final decades of the 21st century were the most promising for humanity. Having left ambitions of conquest and petty grievances in the earlier years of the century, mankind was now solely driven by the exploration, claim, and settlement of space. Mars had already seen a human presence rapidly develop on it, being Earth's closest suitable neighbor at the time. By 2090, Mars was expected to have a population nearing 55,000, with the number only expected to grow exponentially in the years to come. With this came the drive to make Mars a habitable world, through terraforming. The late 21st century saw the Martian terraforming project take flight. Mankind was on the verge of breakthroughs in asteroid mining as well, having already demonstrated the first instance of it in constructing the first long-term manned deep-space craft, the EV/EISV Hiker. Never before had humanity expanded so far from its home, and the rate at which all of this had been achieved is considerably impressive.

Hiker Completes Her Mission

With great interest, the world watched Hiker complete its mission. By January 2089, some four years after launch, Hiker arrived in Jovian orbit, ready to swing over Callisto and deposit its payload. The event was broadcast across the globe, as Hiker rested in orbit over Jupiter as the crew prepared to maneuver the vessel by Callisto, using the gas giant's gravity well as a slingshot. To miss would set the crew back several months on its journey home, as the vessel would need to complete as many orbits as necessary for the probe deposit to be successful.

On 26 March 2089, Hiker made its first attempt to pass Callisto. The vessel missed by several thousand kilometers, and subsequently aborted its probe launch, much to Excelsior's disappointment. Protesting Ricanos celebrated the failure, some wishing death to the crew of the ship in its endeavor. On 7 April, Hiker made its second attempt, arriving much closer than before, but still missing its target and being forced to abort. On 19 April, Hiker made its third attempt, this time successfully depositing its payload in Callisto's northern hemisphere. With it's mission complete, Hiker took some final readings and exosphere samples of Jupiter on her last orbit, and departed for Earth, now in relatively close proximity.

Hiker's success was celebrated across Earth, Luna, and Mars. The Hiker mission was the furthest humans had ever ventured, achieving a probe launch that would eventually pave the way for human colonies in the distant worlds of the Solar System. The crew were lauded for their bravery and for their achievements as pioneers of humanity.

Hiker arrived at Earth in 6 June 2092. The mission galvanized Earth, demonstrating to holdouts that the united powers of the Excelsior Pact could achieve far more in a shorter time than a disunited series of conflicting space efforts could. Hiker's safe return ultimately paved the way for a potential united Earth. Hiker's performance also guaranteed the continuation of the Hiker program, with future missions already being planned for approval.

Complexes on Mars

By 2090, what had initially been small habitat bases on Mars had grown to considerable Martian complexes. OneEffort was, by a large margin, the most extensive of these complexes, housing some 3,000 or 4,000 inhabitants, both enlisted spacemen and civilians, with Olympus Base the second most-extensive. As mentioned prior, many of these complexes were open to private and civilian use, which led to rapid expansion of Martian infrastructure as these small complexes needed to accommodate waves of new settlers.

Private complexes also sprang up across Mars, particularly concentrated around Olympus Base and OneEffort, forming a sizable network of Martian communities in close proximity, known collectively as the Tharsis Supernetwork. The Tharsia region, over all others, became the central hub of Martian life, with the highest population of all other regions, and essentially being the crossroads of all Mars. Three of the six most prominent spaceports on Mars were located in the region, and with nearly four-fifths of the total population of Mars concentrated there, it soon became clear that Tharsia was the crux of Martian settlement and development.

Of these complexes, La Tierra Más Allá, the Ricano settlement on Mars made possible by Project Further, was one of the lesser settlements on the surface. Even with the Treangolist Trialt diverting large portions of its budget to funding the effort, growth was significantly slower in this more isolated colony than the others.

Terraforming Mars - Deploying Green's Gimmick

As discussed in Volume VII, discussion on Martian terraforming involved the establishment of an artificial magnetosphere around the planet before anything else. Mars had lost its own natural magnetosphere at some point in prehistory, which likely contributed to the thinning of its atmosphere and the evaporation of whatever natural oceans may have existed on the planet.

In the early stages of terraforming, establishing any sort of satellite grid or network would be too costly, too lengthy, and too labor-intensive, even with the cooperation of the entire Earth. The proposal which won the discussion was based off of a proposal from the beginning of the century: the deployment of a powerful magnetic dipole at Lagrange point L1, which would then wrap its magnetic tail around Mars and act as a temporary magnetosphere. Once established, the atmosphere could be thickened and Mars could be made Earth-similar.

Named "Green's Gimmick" after the lead of the proposal, Jim Green, the project involved the establishment of a magnetic field emitter (a supercharged artificial satellite with two opposite poles rotating thousands of times per second in converse) in a specific orbital pattern around Mars, such that the emitter be directly between Mars and the sun at all times. Deploying this object was achievable in short order.

On 30 June 2094, Green's Gimmick was launched from the Carl E. Sagan spaceport in the Tharsia Supernetwork, guided by a pair of hydrogen thruster drones. Shortly after, the Gimmick established orbital stability at L1, and began charging for activation by the following year.

Disunion in La Paz de Los Ricos

The Ricano public grew more distrustful of its government, as many believed that the Trialt was prioritizing its space affairs over the needs of the people in the homeland. Conservative Ricanos, outraged over the issue, declared that their nation had absolutely no business in space whatsoever, and implored their fellow citizens to take action against the government. Violent protests ravaged the nation over the early 2090s.

On 16 June 2092, following the arrival of Hiker, a series of organized mass marches occurred across Los Ricos. Protestors marched for up to ten kilometers, burning effigies of each member of Hiker's crew and chanting calls for the reformation of the Treangolist government and a total withdrawal from Excelsior and all space endeavors. The protestors burned the Treangolist icon off of Ricano flags, and the sight of old Reformist flags and other banners emblazoned with "Toda Ricania, Un Destino", reminiscent of the Siete Islas revolutionary flag, was commonplace. Most of these marches were accompanied by vandalism and destruction of public property. Despite the incumbent Trialt doing what they could to defuse escalating tensions, the nation continued to riot. The two Ricano crewmembers who had served on Hiker were forced to stay in a hotel in New York, as they could not safely return home with the threat to their lives the outrage posed.

The violence reached such levels that several Subinsuls threatened to shut down business entirely for the protection of their towns. When this inexorably led to further disruption, the Subinsulates convened an emergency discussion regarding the safety of their citizens and their future within La Paz de Los Ricos. In total, 14 Subinsuls, mostly those surrounding large metropolitan areas, brought grievances to the discussion.


















































































The Splitview Incident

Map of the Splitview Deal.

At the Subinsulate discussion, several of the Subinsulates proposed what seemed to be a ludicrous idea: force the Trialt to stop and listen to their demands and the demands of the people by threatening secession from La Paz de Los Ricos as a whole. Initially, the idea was opposed by a majority of the attendant Subinsulates. The Iron Militia, the Ricano armed force, was loyal to the Trialt, which paid them. If the Trialt saw opposition to the Treangolist process and deemed it a sufficient threat, the State Onalt could order military retaliation. This point was quickly countered: should La Paz de Los Ricos order a strike against its own civilians, along with the violence already present in the nation, then the United Nations could reasonably declare the Magos Archipelago devoid of a central government, and as such, eject La Paz de Los Ricos from the Excelsior Pact. A subsequent point declared that, should La Paz de Los Ricos be dissolved, the Ricano people may be worse off than they would be in a united state. This point was refuted, as a Subinsulate declared La Paz de Los Ricos to be "an impossible state", citing that for most its history, the archipelago had been in a state of revolution against a greater union, and that the fifteen islands naturally chose the path of least affiliation.

Ultimately, the fourteen Subinsulates swore a pact of unity: either they would receive their audience, or they would declare secession, and in doing so, unravel La Paz de Los Ricos into a state of total anarchy. Together, the fourteen defiant Subinsuls formed the Splitview Deal, promising to act together.

On 12 January 2094, Splitview confronted the Treangolist Trialt, sending a list of demands directly to Alvore̜sod with the threat that ignoring them would lead to civil war. As the demands were made public, Ricanos across the islands rallied in support of Splitview, declaring that La Paz de Los Ricos was too balanced to delicately. Ricanos claimed that the nation had forgotten its origins as Breakaway, and rumors of a potential war grew rampant.

The Treangolist Trialt did not official respond to Splitview, instead going silent as top officials deliberated the state of Los Ricos in secret. Splitview interpreted this as an act of aggression, decrying the cowardice of the Trialt and stating it a demonstration of the unrealism of a successful union of the Magos Archipelago. Ricanos loyal and sympathetic to the Splitview cause took up arms and rallied for full balkanization of La Paz de Los Ricos.

The Fourth Reunification War


The Fourth Reunification War

Dates: 20 January 2094 - 17 July 2094



Location: La Paz de Los Ricos



Result: Draw
- Splitview demands recognized
- Treangolist Trialt reformed
- La Paz de Los Ricos remains united
- La Tierra Más Allá abandoned

Belligerents

PRO-BALKANIZATION
- The Splitview Deal

PRO-RICANIA
- The Treangolist Trialt of La Paz de Los Ricos


Commanders and Leaders

PRO-BALKANIZATION
- Sorani Ka͑tar, Splitview figurehead
- Cricor Vesou, civilian figure
- Unnamed Splitview Subinsulates

PRO-RICANIA
- Velori Sirana riCOt
- Lusi Delecad riNOt
- A͗kin Sulura riSOt
- several unnamed Iron Militia officials


Strength

PRO-BALKANIZATION
~15,000 armed civilians
~>76 retrofitted assault drones

PRO-RICANIA
~60,000 Iron Militiamen
~710 modern assault drones


Casualties and Losses

PRO-BALKANIZATION
~12 civilian deaths
~ 76 retrofitted assault drones

PRO-RICANIA
~14 Iron Militiamen
~3 drone operators


.

The Fourth Breakaway War, alternatively known as "The Splitview War", was a minor armed civil conflict within La Paz de Los Ricos, over the question of whether or not a large, archipelago-wide government would serve the people of the Magos Archipelago better than a series of smaller, disunited local governments. To wit, it was a question of whether "Ricania", as a concept of the people and identity of La Paz de Los Ricos, was worth preserving when the Ricano government was considered so inept.

The war began following the Treangolist Trialt's weeklong deadline to respond the Splitview's ultimatum expired. The demands had been made public, so Ricanos across the nation were aware of the situation and the consequences of continued ignorance from the Trialt. Once 19 January dawned, Splitview was assured that the Trialt would remain silent over the issue.

On 20 January, Splitview reminded Ricanos across the islands of the Trialt's silence. Splitview publicly declared that, since the Trialt refused to even heed the wants of the public, that the public had a right to force the hand of their government. Nationwide, thousands of disillusioned Ricanos armed themselves and took to the streets in a show of force, demanding an end to the Trialt. Those without guns waved flags, both of their local Insuls and historic flags of the Breakaway revolution, in support of their countrymen.

The last Reunification War had taken place just under two centuries prior, and both sides were well aware that the mechanics of this war would function far differently than those of prior civil wars. The key difference was in the speed of the war, whether that be in communication, transportation of forces, and collection of information. Orders for mobilization could reach the Iron Militia's top offices directly from the Trialt in seconds, commands could be given in just as short a time. With the advent of near-instant communication on the interim between the Third and Fourth Reunification Wars, the same speed was afforded to the civilian fighters. Situation reports could be distributed across armed groups across the islands in fractions of a minute.

Another difference came in combat itself. The Treangolist Trialt had a clear advantage in this scenario. It was armed with the highest grade military equipment, even with experimental electron weapons. A large portion of its fighting force consisted of tactical drones which could be risked in battle without fear of casualties. The Iron Militia, though being one of the smallest active armed forces on Earth at the time, was the most sizable fighting force of La Paz de Los Ricos. Civilians could retrofit commercial drones, research military combat strategies, call upon the experience of Militia veterans siding now with Splitview, and yet they would still be in a weaker position that the professional fighting force the Trialt had at their disposal.

Yet, there was one thing which concerned the Trialt: despite Splitview being an alliance of renegade Subinsuls and scattered factions of armed Ricanos, the Trialt still considered them part of the same entity. Should La Paz de Los Ricos kill its own citizens, even those in active revolt against them, it could draw ire and international condemnation to the Trialt and support to Splitview.

Early Skirmishes

Much of the early fighting took place in and around Alvore̜sod, as Splitview loyalists carved their way out of the city limits through the small Iron Militia perimeter. The Iron Militia was specialized in tight combat, so they were able to contain much of the fighting within the city's dense port-side business district, only a few kilometers away from Girante Palica͑ and the major seats of government. In early February, the Trialt ordered all ships docked at the Alvore̜sod port to be steered out into the open ocean so as to prevent Splitview loyalists the opportunity to hijack them. The Iron Militia then organized mass evacuations of unarmed civilians to the outskirts of Alvore̜sod, away from major fighting.

Throughout much of February, infrequent and sporadic clashes between Splitview fighters and Iron Militiamen took place at various locations across the islands, rarely leaving casualties. Splitview forces made use of commercial drones roughly retrofitted for limited scouting, losing many in the process. The Iron Militia did what they could to infrequently target fighters, instead preferring to take out scout drones and balloons. The Militia essentially hoped to wear Splitview's morale through repeated destruction of their strongholds and small bases, rather than whittling down their forces by intentionally taking lives.

The United Nations took notice of the conflict immediately, convening an emergency summit of the Security Council to discuss the matter. Though international opinion on the state of affairs in La Paz de Los Ricos was largely without concensus, it was eventually agreed upon that, throughout the course of the war, the Treangolist Trialt was to be considered void of power, and La Paz de Los Ricos subsequently declared without central government. On 3 March, the United Nations voted to remove La Paz de Los Ricos from Excelsior indefinitely, fearing that its infighting would detriment the organization. With Los Ricos out of the alliance, La Tierra Más Allá and the 8,000 inhabitants calling it home, were considered displaced expatriates, and were then taken under the indirect administration of the Excelsior Pact. Of note, many wealthy Ricanos, troubled by the situation in their homeland on Earth, elected to simply purchase a residence on Mars. The Fourth Reunification War directly led to the growth of La Tierra Más Allá.

Fighting Eases & Eventual Truce

Fighting in the war was most common in the early months, before eventually petering out over the course of March, April, and May. By that point, the Splitview loyalists had congregated in Splitview Subinsuls, making use of what ancient or abandoned fortifications existed there. Meanwhile, the Iron Militia made weak advances into Splitview lines, hoping to avoid casualties by all means possible. The Treangolist Trialt, noticing the lull in combat, took the opportunity to end the war as quickly as possible.

On 19 June 2094, the Trialt officially contacted Splitview leaders and offered to negotiate a ceasefire, this time open to acknowledging the demands of the people. Sorani Ka͑tar, former Subinsulate of Aso̹manele͑ and outspoken supporter of the balkanization movement, quickly opposed the move, calling at another example of the cowardice of the Trialt and pushing for a continuation of the fighting, stating that if the Trialt was ready to surrender so early, then they must have been in deeper trouble than Splitview assessed at the time. Communication was broken, only to silence across the islands. Nearly one month later, with no major fighting taking place, the Trialt again offered to negotiate and end to the war. This time, to the dismay of Ka͑tar, Splitview leaders agreed to meet the Treangolist government in Alvore̜sod to discuss an end to the war and terms for reformation.

On 17 July 2094, the Fourth Reunification War came to a quiet end. Splitview loyalists, disappointed with the outcome of the war but willing to lay down arms, released captured fortifications and returned home. The nation, embittered by the conflict, at last had an opportunity to heal, and Ricanos had the conversation with their Trialt they had wanted since mid-century.

Difficult Discussion

Standard of the reformed Iron Forces.

The months following the end of the Fourth Reunification War were a period of difficult recovery and tense conversation for La Paz de Los Ricos. In late 2094, repair work started in Alvore̜sod and other cities. Though casualties were light, the Iron Militia's campaign of destruction of bases left its toll on the nation's infrastructure. Eventually, the ports at Alvore̜sod were reopened, and life returned to semi-normalcy in the more intact blocks of the business district. Out in the countryside, repair crews officially funded and supported by the Trialt surveyed the nation's towns, listing former Splitview strongholds and preparing for reconstruction.

As for the political, the Trialt held public forums on their conduct and urged Ricanos to participate in the discussion. There was an uneasiness in Los Ricos, as Ricano across the nation were now suddenly exposed to the reality that, even the dawn of the 22nd century would not secure the nation from conflict. At first, discussion was rare, and many Ricanos simply held their animosity for one another silently. Business in the nation came to a standstill, only supplemented by foreign agencies unaffected by the war. Politics became, briefly, taboo in the nation. However, activists still tried to engage the Trialt in conversation, lamenting over the unfortunate occurances of the war, but optimistic that, in time, Ricanos would recover their trust in each other and their government, and the nation could recapture the prosperity it had known before. Even still, Ricanos expected a long, uphill climb to rebuild La Paz de Los Ricos, especially with suspicion and mistrust permeating Ricania.

Former Splitview leaders led the discussion, confronting the Trialt in their misdeeds, angry that even the past two elections had done nothing to ease tensions or change the agenda. The Trialt acceded, and together, the nation's legislation was overhauled. Treangolism was reformed to include civilian leaders. Political analysts reviewed minor legislation for loopholes which let the situation reach the point it had. The Trialt's term limits were reduced from twenty years to five years, and the next general elections were scheduled early, for the year 2100.

Nothing occurred immediately. Over the mid-2090s, the nation floundered in anguish and mistrust. However, 2095 saw the restoration of Alvore̜sod's business district, 2096 saw governmental reforms change Treangolism and invite political transparency and necessary protections for the rights of peaceful protest and lawful demonstration. The Iron Militia, outdated in its hierarchy, also received a shakedown, transforming it into the Iron Forces. Slowly, the nation recovered.

Dawn of the 22nd Century


Even as La Paz de Los Ricos pieced itself back together, humanity saw the beginning of the 22nd century as a period of optimism and hope. Hiker gave humanity the opportunity to expand further into deep space than ever before, as well as paving the way for potential human colonies over the gas giants. Alongside this, Mars was experiencing incredible growth, now having a combined population of just under 100,000 colonists across all of its settlements. With this, the Martian terraforming experiments were showing considerable promise. Green's Gimmick, having been active now for just over half-a-decade, was performing just as the simulation predicted. The satellite had developed a magnetosphere around Mars which, while of lesser magnitude than Earth's own field, still produced more-than-acceptable results. The future of Martian terraforming was now one step closer to becoming an actual reality. Mars as a whole was flourishing as the 22nd century dawned.

Terraforming Mars - Atmosphere Thickening

With Green's Gimmick establishing a suitable magnetosphere over Mars, humanity at last had the opportunity to begin thickening the planet's atmosphere. Excelsior revisited the terraforming plans, reviewing the best and most feasible ways to begin the process. Initially, asteroid bombardment was the proposed method, though Martian officials feared that the process may endanger the growing Martian supercomplexes. Martian administrators alternatively suggested releasing trapped packets of methane into the atmosphere through repeated nuclear detonations on the planet's polar ice caps, though Excelsior conversely rejected the idea as it went against the Partial Test Ban Treaty. Other methods, such as gradually introducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with factory facilities, left both parties unsatisfied due to the length of time it would take.

The two parties settled on a partial compromise, involving a modification of both initial proposals. Excelsior would redirect small asteroids into a controlled orbit over Mars, which then could be deorbited safely at Martian discretion. At the same time, Excelsior would allow Mars the use of high conventional explosives to release whatever methane could be accessed near the surface, as well as to begin melting the ice caps and to form rough canals to channel the flow to colonial reservoirs. Both parties agreed to the proposal, and once the United Nations had approved, the process began.

Hiker's Second Mission

Hiker's 22nd century refit, which added a second solar panel
core module, an elongated spine, taller fuel capacity tanks,
more robust main engines, and two auxiliary engines aft of
the habitat module.

Presently, Hiker was moored at the shipyards over Luna undergoing a massive refit following her Callisto tour. At this point, Excelsior already had a second mission planned for Hiker, planned for 2104. This second mission would take her out past the asteroid belt again on a survey mission, where she would swing past Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus to deposit several other probes on the Jovian moons and study the Saturnian rings in further detail. If possible, Excelsior hoped that the mission would allow Hiker the opportunity to briefly set a crew down on Callisto to collect some samples. This second mission is of note as it would be a demonstration that extended deep-space missions were continually feasible. The first mission had demonstrated that it was possible, and the next mission would determine it to be possible sequentially.

Excelsior focused all of its resources on completing Hiker's refit, hoping that by 2102, she would be complete and ready for trial runs around the inner Solar System. As the refit progressed, Excelsior could not afford to focus on the Mars colonies, instead leaving them entirely in the hands of their respective capitals. In the case of La Tierra Más Allá, Excelsior was not willing to cede control of the colony back to Alvore̜sod, given the recent civil war in La Paz de Los Ricos. Instead, Excelsior ceded control of the former Ricano colony to small regional administrations within; La Tierra Más Allá was to be self-governed as Excelsior focused on completing Hiker.

The decision was not without controversy. Some colonists, concerned that the move would again spark tensions in La Paz de Los Ricos and perhaps lead to a fifth Reunification War, thought the move hasty and made without concern. Ricano expatriates in La Tierra Más Allá called it "risky, perhaps flammable". Given the situation which had unfolded, and the slow path to normalcy La Paz de Los Ricos was on, Martians were afraid to upset the fragile balance. Supporters of the move thought the decision would give La Paz de Los Ricos a chance to rebuild from the war and ensure the security of their new reformed Treangolism, at least until the Trialt was ready to assume control over the colony again. Some fringe radicals in La Tierra Más Allá, sensing uncertainty among the colonists, outright proclaimed the move "worthy of permanence", and asked that Excelsior grant them total autonomy, though Excelsior did not heed these minor groups.

The decision was made on 1 February 2100. Until further notice, governance of La Tierra Más Allá would be turned over to its own regional authorities, a move which set La Tierra Más Allá apart as the first autonomous off-Earth colony, though it was intended to be temporary. To the surprise of many, La Paz de Los Ricos accepted the decision, many Ricanos simply pronouncing themselves uninterested in Martian affairs after the recent Reunification War.

Hiker Launches Again

In December 2101, Hiker completed her refit ahead of schedule, and was sent to Luna to begin her trial. Her maiden voyage would be a test circuit around Venus, Earth, and Mars, lasting two-thirds of a month. Once this trial was completed, she would return to the shipyards for her dedication ceremony and the second mission could officially begin.

The vessel was planned for a tour of the outer Solar System, passing by Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its rings, and Uranus and its exosphere. Points of interest on this mission included Callisto; so that the crew could check on the progress of the Callisto probe, as well as Ganymede and Europa for further probe deployment; various points along LinkSaturn's B-Ring for sample collection and surveying for particle simulations, as well as Titan for atmospheric sampling; Uranus' exosphere interested Excelsior as well, so Hiker was to fly by the blue gas giant to conduct brief studies. Several complete probes were stored aboard the ship for quick deployment, as well as some schematics for a Titan rover and Uranus orbiter for on-board construction during the mission itself. The Hiker refit was built to be a mobile laboratory and construction facility to accommodate flexible and multi-purpose mission parameters. In total, this second mission was projected to take roughly 16 years round-trip, the longest manned space voyage yet.

Even with the Fourth Reunification War half-a-century behind them, La Paz de Los Ricos still concerned Excelsior officials. Many agreed that allowing Ricano astronauts on the voyage would pose a definite security threat to the nation, and with Los Ricos still outside Excelsior, it was ultimately decided that Ricanos would be ineligible for deep-space missions unless special dispensation was granted by the United Nations Security Council.

In March 2105, Hiker returned from its test trial, and preparations began for the official launch. The mission's crew, thirty-one Earth scientists and specialists, with two Martian observers, were escorted to the vessel, then moored in Earth orbit. On 16 August 2105, Hiker launched, destined for Jupiter and the distant worlds of the Solar System.

La Paz de Los Ricos Recovers

A section of ruined road in La Paz de Los Ricos.

The early 2100s saw La Paz de Los Ricos slowly recover from the Fourth Reunification War. By 2105, reforms of the Treangolist system were mostly implemented, and those public offices which had not already undergone rigorous shakedowns were in the process of doing so. Dialogue between the Treangolist offices and the Ricano people contributed greatly to the nation's betterment. A return to political transparency was promised, and though Ricanos were still skeptical, many were glad to put the war behind them. Even with this dialogue, Ricania was still tense. The Fourth Reunification War had exposed to many Ricanos the true beliefs of their countrymen. Many Ricanos felt their nation unsafe, unstable, and were fearful that the delicate balance between the citizens and their government could be disrupted at any time by radicals still loyal to the now-dissolved Splitview Deal.

Despite the gradual recuperation, many questions still lingered. The economic situation in the country was concerning to many. A large number of business, unsure of the long-term survival of the Treangolist government and future of Los Ricos in general during the recent civil war, abandoned Alvore̜sod in favor of neighboring nations in the Americas, and particularly, expanding onto Luna and Mars. La Tierra Más Allá, in fact, had seen many formerly-Ricano enterprises migrate to them with wealthy Ricanos (many of them entrepreneurs and business owners). Also of concern were the Ricano armed forces, which had since reorganized themselves into the Iron Forces following government reforms. Though the Iron Forces ostensibly claimed to hold themselves in the future to the same public transparency as the restructured government, some Ricanos still feared that the Forces may attempt to assert control over the Trialt, introducing an authoritarian rule in doing so. The issue was widely controversial among Ricanos. Some believed that the nation should not have the ability to raise a military, especially considering that the Hiker mission and Excelsior had so strongly united humanity.

Alongside this, rural infrastructure affected by the war was still a major issue. During the war, many highways and roadways crossing the Ricano wilderness were severely damaged. Major cities were isolated to air travel or waterways for transit between them, and smaller towns and villages connected by the roadways were left essentially severed from each other and the metropolitan areas. Many Ricanos felt that the Iron Forces should pay reparations for the damage, which was not doable. Instead, the Iron Forces set out across the islands to assist volunteer reconstruction efforts in rebuilding what they could.

- Ricania Abandons Roadways

As the volunteers surveyed the damages to Ricano transportation infrastructure, it was soon realized that much of the nation's roadways and railways were irreparable, even with the help of the Iron Forces. In 2106, the Trialt proposed that, rather than spending large portions of the nation's budget on essentially building a new roadway network, La Paz de Los Ricos choose to invest in a network of local and domestic airways. The Trialt proposed investing in personal hovercraft and hovershuttles for civilian use, rather than relying on cars, buses, and metros. This seemed a logical alternative to the public, and the national budget was appropriately redirected to developing proprietary hovercraft prototypes.

Hiker Rounds the Gas Giants

Hiker (right) over Enceladus, with Saturn behind.

In November 2108, Hiker entered orbit of Jupiter, where she would spend the next month swinging between the Jovian lunar orbits, depositing various new probes onto their surfaces. In the first week, she passed over Europa, where she deposited a small drill probe intended to explore the ice-hidden Europan ocean on 18 November 2108. Some samples of the Europan ice were launched back to Hiker by the probe and collected. The following week, she slung around Jupiter and over Ganymede. On 9 December 2108, a small drop pod carried two of the astronauts to the Ganymedean surface, marking the furthest point humans had ever stood. Here, they planted a United Nations banner and collected samples, before returning to the ship and departing. As New Year's 2109 passed, Hiker quickly flew by Callisto and inspected the probe already on its surface. Astronauts remotely installed a new compact solar battery in the probe via drone and departed.

Over the next year, Hiker approached Uranus, interests set on pressurized exospheric samples. In October 2109, she arrived in Uranian orbit, where she spent a relatively short time taking scans and sending telemetry back to Mars. The crew also deployed an orbiter over Oberon, one of Uranus' large moons. She departed in early December of that year.

In February 2110, as Hiker made the long journey to Saturn, she unexpectedly suffered a catastrophic failure in one of her fuel capacity tanks, and was forced to divert to Mars for emergency repair and reevaluation. It was ultimately discovered by the crew that a pressure-seal pad near the tank's inner airlock ruptured, and its redundant failed to properly reinforce the O-ring, leading to a loss of fuel. No casualties were caused as a result of the accident. Hiker arrived at Mars in November 2110 in low power, where she spent the next six months replacing the tank and undergoing short trials. In May 2111, Hiker left for Saturn, which at that point, was halfway across the Solar System.

Hiker Returns Once Again

In February 2114, Hiker arrived in Saturn's orbit, following over the planet's B-ring. Here, the crew brought aboard several smaller ice fragments to return to Earth. The vessel also took scans of fragment trajectories in the rings to glean a better understanding of the movement of the ring system. In April of that year, Hiker swung out of Saturnian orbit, her crew eager to return to Earth following the fuel tank incident.

With this second mission near-completion, Hiker continued to push the forefronts of manned exploration, despite the incident. Excelsior celebrated the success, declaring it another triumph of human ingenuity and a predecessor of many more future missions like it. Over the remainder of the 2110s, Hiker slowly sailed back to Earth, carrying with it extensive data and firsthand experiences, having achieved much in the early years of the 22nd century. In August 2118, Hiker entered orbit of Luna to widespread celebration, marking the end of her 13-year mission and pushing humanity one step closer to colonizing the outer reaches of the Solar System and eventually pushing further beyond.

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▤ La Paz de Los Ricos ▤
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