by Max Barry

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by The No clue of La Paz de Los Ricos. . 8 reads.

History of La Paz de Los Ricos, Volume IX [2118 - 2155]

History of La Paz de Los Ricos

▤ La Paz de Los Ricos ▤


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

- 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

- 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

- 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

Colonizing the Rest of the System

The success of Hiker's second mission opened a door for humanity. The ship's manned mission across the gas giants demonstrated to Earth that a human presence around the outer planets was not simply possible, but achievable in a short time. Automated surveys of colonization candidates in the outer Solar System, Callisto foremost among them, indicated that communities so far from Earth were feasible. With Mars' terraforming efforts progressing smoothly, and Luna already seeing major city complexes spread across its surface, humanity turned to expanding across the rest of the Solar System.

Mercury and Venus

Mercury and Venus presented a unique situation for humanity: though both were far closer to Earth than colonial candidates in the outer Solar System, both contained uniquely harsh conditions which posed challenges for potential settlements. Mercury's surface temperatures varied wildly between day and night, as it had no atmosphere of its own. Alongside this, its proximity to the sun made ultraviolet radiation a major issue for humans wanting to establish bases on the planet. Any successful colonies on Mercury would need to be underground, to shield them from the extreme radiation and the intense surface conditions.

Venus, the second inner planet, was not much better. Venus' extremely dense atmosphere made the surface entirely unlivable, both incredibly hot and under extreme pressure. Most spacecraft sent to the planet in the past were doomed to disintegrate in these conditions. This presented a unique challenge, where any feasible Earth colony would need to either float on or above the Venutian atmosphere, or Venus would need to be at least partially terraformed before any colonies could survive on its surface. Of the two inner planets, neither were actually feasible prospects for human settlement presently.

Asteroid Belt

The Asteroid Belt was of great interest to humanity. The rocky fragments and smaller celestia contained within the Belt held many valuable resources, far more than traditional mining could extract from Earth, Luna, or Mars. With many mining efforts on Earth having been shut down in the mid-21st century in favor of experimenting with the large wealth of materials asteroid mining could provide, the Belt was a necessary region for human settlement. Its vastness would also allow settlements in the Belt to be thousands of kilometers apart, reducing risk of conflict between agencies and keeping Excelsior united.


Though Jupiter itself was not inhabitable, its many moons were, particularly its Galilean moons. Callisto has previously been mentioned as a target of interest for both Hiker missions, due to its size and surface characteristics. It is non-volcanic and its craters held deposits of water ice, which held promise for Earth missions. Also mentioned were Ganymede, much larger than Callisto and similarly non-volcanic, and Europa, of note for its massive under-ice oceans. Probe studies conducted by Hiker on her second mission proved extraterrestrial life unlikely to exist in the ocean, but revealed the existence of hydrothermal vents, which could conceivably support underwater human colonies in the future.


Like Jupiter, Saturn's many moons were the subject of interest for 22nd century human colonization. Saturn's most suggested colonial target was it's largest moon, Titan, which harbored oceans of methane governed by a methane cycle, similarly to how Earth's aqueous oceans were by its water cycle. Saturn also held human interest for its extensive icy ring systems, which would eventually play a role in Martian terraforming. Initially, it was suggested that trips to the Oort Cloud were the only way to provide Mars with ice for its ancient basins, though Saturnian colonies were suggested as potential bases for ice collection and transport to Mars.

Uranus and Neptune

As with Jupiter and Saturn, the moons of Uranus and Neptune were their primary points of interest and speculation, though to a much lesser degree. Uranus and Neptune still held much less opportunities for colonial expansion, as their moons were, on average, much smaller than those of their neighbors Jupiter and Saturn. The greatest intrigue for future colonization was Neptune's moon Triton, which could be used as the jumping-off port for any future extrasolar or, eventually, interstellar missions.

Dwarf Planets, Kuiper Belt, and the Oort

Other points of interest included the Solar System's dwarf planets, planetesimals, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud (referred to mainly as the Oort), though never to the extent as those previously mentioned. Lack of widespread investment in dwarf planet colonization mainly stemmed from its own definition: dwarf planets such as Pluto and Makemake were simply too small. Their gravity was minimal, which made surface colonization largely unfeasible, and there was no real effort to try as with small moons in orbit of the System's gas giants, as many dwarf planets were not in proximity of any more prominent points of interest. The Kuiper Belt was also not a major point of interest, being superseded by the Asteroid Belt in its mining and transport potential due to its proximity to the only two human planets of the time. As with the Asteroid Belt, the Oort Cloud held some interest for colonization for its trillions of comets, and potential for mining those comets for their ice, though any colonial efforts to the Oort within the century were unfeasible, due to its sheer distance from the edge of the Solar System and the vast distances between any two comets within the Oort.

Expanding the Hiker Program

As mentioned in the volume prior, Hiker was the initial spearhead of Excelsior's Hiker program. With Hiker proving a major success as a manned deep-spacecraft, and with humanity's colonial ambitions now looking beyond Mars and Luna, Excelsior now found it necessary to begin greatly expanding the Hiker program past one vessel.

Initial Propositions

On 16 May 2120, delegations from the 191 Earth nations now members of Excelsior convened in Stockholm to discuss the future of the Hiker program and humanity's expansion beyond Earth and Mars. With a reminder of humanity's progress in terraforming Mars and the new need to expand outwards as Earth's population increased exponentially, the delegates deliberated the issue over the course of the next week. One consensus between the delegates is that the Hiker program needed to include more vessels, with some even declaring that Excelsior would need to establish an Earth fleet to begin large-scale colonization of the outer Solar System. To do this, Excelsior would need an orbital base of operations, as well as the full support of the United Nations.

Hiker II

In order to boost the Martian economy and encourage further colonization of the Red Planet, Excelsior established its base of operations for the Hiker program as the Ares-Riverston orbital shipyards over Mars. Here was where Excelsior would begin construction of the next iteration of Hiker. On 4 October 2120, Excelsior contracted a new deep-space vessel for construction at Ares-Riverston. The next in the Hiker program's lineage, appropriately named EV/EISV Hiker II, was a vessel designed for outer System colonial surveys and interplanetary transport. Early concepts placed the vessel somewhere at 1500 meters.

Excelsior intended Hiker II as the first ship to colonize beyond the Asteroid Belt. Her target was Ganymede, where she would travel to on its first mission, depositing a small colonial population and the necessary supplies before returning to Mars. She was also intended as the first in a new Excelsior colonial fleet, meant to expand humanity throughout the gas giants over the 22nd century. On 18 October 2120, her keel was laid at Ares-Riverston and construction began on the massive spaceship, expected to last well into the 2130s.

Future Hikers

With Hiker II already under construction, Excelsior also planned for future missions to the outer Solar System. Excelsior delegates also suggested that the Hiker program could eventually become oriented around interstellar missions. Some officials already had sights set on sending unmanned probes, and eventually, generation ships to reach the Alpha Centauri star system, perhaps modelled after the old LinkBreakthrough Starshot missions. Presently, Earth and Mars focused on joint development of Hiker II.

Ricania Tentatively Reenters Space

With La Paz de Los Ricos' successful recovery from the Fourth Reunification War, the Trialt tentatively explored the possibility of returning Ricania to space. The Trialt believed that, handled correctly, Los Ricos could feasibly return to Excelsior and reengage in space affairs while maintaining stability in the homeland. Many Ricanos immediately rejected the idea, calling Treangolist involvement in space a direct threat to Ricano society, and citing the late-21st century conflict in the nation.

With Excelsior now strictly focused on completing Hiker II, as well as progressing with the Hiker program and colonial interests in the 2130s, the Martian colonies were now increasingly delegated by regional authorities. La Tierra Más Allá, having been without direct Ricano governance for nearly three decades, worried the Trialt. The exodus of wealthy Ricanos to the nation's Mars colony had been weakly influencing the direction and agenda of the colonial officials in the early century, and the Trialt wanted to make sure this influence was broken soon.

Creation of Tetarolism

Tetarolist flag of La Paz de Los Ricos following 2122 (above).

Tetarolist flag subsequently on display in Alvore̜sod (above).

At a stalemate, and not wishing to spark conflict or even inspire a possible fifth Reunification War, the Treangolist Trialt and civilian groups arrived at a compromise: the Treangolist system of government would undergo a second series of reforms, transitioning the government from Treangolism to a new system of government called Tetarolism.

Tetarolism (from Novodoman "Tetarol", meaning "square") was a theory of governance derivative of Treangolism. Where Treangolism postulated a balance of three Virtues for the Ricano government (the National, the Civil, and the State Virtues), Tetarolism proposed a fourth Virtue be added to the Ricano legislative ecosystem: the Space Virtue. With this, a fourth Onalt, and a respective Space Audience for the Ricano Audiences, would be installed in the reformed government. Ricano lawmakers hoped that Tetarolism would fare better at leading Ricania in space affairs, as the previous Treangolist government rushed to advance the nation to space without the proper political framework in place.

Tetarolism's Space Angle was created to ensure the nation political stability when dealing in space affairs by having a dedicated section of the Ricano government for that purpose. Through much deliberation, and wary of the prospect of expanding the Ricano government further, the proposals went through. On 27 October 2122, the Treangolist Charter was officially transformed into the Tetarolist Charter.

La Tierra Más Allá, once reintegrated into La Paz de Los Ricos, would fall under the administration of the Space Angle, as would all future Ricano space colonies, the Iron Forces' Space Force, and the Ricano Omniflight Agency (which was presently on the verge of dissolution from years of neglect and disinterest from Ricania). With this, La Paz de Los Ricos could, threoretically, survive the transition back to space without turmoil nor conflict.

In 2125, the first Tetarolist Tetralt would be elected into power, with four Onalts and four Audiences of the Virtues, marking a new era in Ricano history. Though many Ricanos who had lived through the Fourth Reunification War accepted the Tetralt begrudgingly, the new generation of Ricanos felt that Tetarolism would inject a much-needed boost into Ricania, and eventually, allow the nation to rejoin humanity's colonial and exploration efforts, Excelsior.

Rejoining Excelsior

With Tetarolism quickly setting into the Ricano government, the new Tetarolist Tetralt sought to regain its place in the Space Organization of the Excelsior Pact. At this point, members of Excelsior were still considerably hesitant when it came to dealing with La Paz de Los Ricos. The Fourth Reunification War had proven to them that Ricania was simply not ready to work alongside the rest of humanity in space advancements, and even with Tetarolism ostensibly solving the issues the civil war had highlighted, the United Nations still doubted the future stability of La Paz de Los Ricos.

Excelsior officials discussed the issue over the course of the late 2120s. Many Excelsior officials resisted calls from Ricania to rejoin the organization, fearing that that which happened once could easily happen again, and expressing a significant lack of confidence in the new Ricano legislative reforms. Tetarolism, at present, did not convince Excelsior, and La Paz de Los Ricos was rejected from the organization for the moment.

However, the Tetralt was not willing to accept this ruling as final, and in 2127, reapplied for membership in the United Nations to essentially circumvent the previous declaration. Prior to this, the United Nations had considered La Paz de Los Ricos as weak state, following the Fourth Reunification War, and this is partially the reason the Treangolist state had been ejected from the Excelsior Pact. However, the new Tetarolist state decided that, from 2122 forward, Tetarolist La Paz de Los Ricos under its new Tetralt was an entirely new state, and as such, its prior status in the United Nations was invalid. Unable to deny the application within reason, the United Nations accepted the Tetarolist country as a new member, and from there, Los Ricos applied once again for membership in the Excelsior Pact.

Concerned, but still recognizing the initiative of the new Tetarolist state and the relative stability and recovery of Ricania, the Excelsior Pact apprehensively accepted La Paz de Los Ricos back into its ranks on 18 May 2128, also returning the La Tierra Más Allá colony to the Tetarolist government and pledging not to interfere or stifle Ricano space efforts. Ricanos, armed with the virtues of their new Tetarolist state, tentatively stepped back into the realm of space affairs, vowing not to let another civil war spark from the effort again.

The Promise of Hiker II

Hiker II was intended to be the next generation of human deep-spaceflight vehicles. With the original Hiker being solely a reconnaissance and exploratory ship not equipped for frequent flights or to put a crew down on a planet, her successor, the new Hiker II, was exactly that: intended to serve as a deep-space exploratory ferryship, opening up opportunities for human expansion into the outer reaches of the Solar System. With Excelsior's interest in the gas giants, Hiker II would have many opportunities for flight.

Completion of the Vessel

Hiker II in orbit of Earth before departure.

Hiker II completed construction in 2132, where she was then moved from the Ares-Riverston shipyards over to Earth in order to take advantage of a window of proximity between Earth and Jupiter. The vessel was christened on 13 November 2132, and her passengers and crew were ultimately selected in the months following. In a show of goodwill, La Paz de Los Ricos volunteered several candidates for Hiker II's colonial mission, two of which were selected for the mission. In total, 24 colonists were selected for the one-way mission, including the Ricanos.

Hiker II's first mission, as previously mentioned, was chartered for Ganymede, a Jovian moon, where she would deposit the 24 colonists and the supplies and information necessary to produce a self-sustaining extraterrestrial colony. Once they were on the surface, Hiker II would remain in Ganymedean orbit for two months monitoring their progress and providing assistance when necessary, before bidding farewell and sailing the long voyage back to Earth.

Hiker II Launches

Hiker II did not participate in any major trial runs, considering that this mission would be relatively short. On 2 January 2133, the vessel's passengers and crew boarded the vessel, preparing the vessel for launch in the following week. Some final tests were conducted on her rear engines, and the vessel's outer hull was secured. On 10 January 2133, Hiker II departed from Luna for her six-year, the colonists onboard destined for Ganymede.

Reaching Ganymede

Over the course of the 2130s, Hiker II journeyed to Ganymede. Utilizing the proximity window, the voyage lasted somewhere around 2 years. In this time, Hiker II's passengers prepared their colonial habitats and equipment for their destination. On 16 May 2135, Hiker II established orbit over Jupiter, before flying over Ganymede. Over the following month, the vessel prepared to set up the new Ganymedean colony. On 1 July 2135, a shuttle carrying the colonists and their equipment set down on the LinkLakhamu Fossa of the moon, marking the inception of humanity's most distant colony at the time. Hiker II remained in orbit for the next two weeks, monitoring the Ganymede colony's progress, and once the settlement's biodome was operation, the ferryship left orbit of Jupiter and made the long journey back to Earth.

Martian Cities

By the 2130s and 2140s, the population of Mars had exceeded three million inhabitants, and colonial cities, comparable to the cities of Earth, began to form from the complexes and supercomplexes of Mars. Of these, the largest was the Trans-Tharsia city, formed around the Tharsia Supercomplex and centered around the old Olympus Base and OneEffort habitats. This region had already been established as the political, economic, agricultural, and transportation capital of Mars, so further development was expected on the city. Other notable cities included the city of Riverston in the Pearl Bay region of Mars, of which the Ares-Riverston shipyards were administrated by and named after, as well as Port Donnelly along the Hellas Basin. La Tierra Más Allá had also seen immense growth in the years of Ricano absence, with the upper-class exodus to the colony boosting the region's economic status. Solar supply was a booming business on Mars, with massive solar farms being built along flat stretches of land, particularly in the LinkElysium Plains. Solar cells were a commodity on the Red Planet, with every new Lunar shipment of them being highly coveted. Life as a Martian was safe in these years, with new Martian communities springing up frequently as the colonial cities expanded across the surface.

Terraforming Mars - Melting the Ice Caps

Mars in 2130. Note the thicker, bluer atmosphere and the
abundant city lights on the surface. Several orbiting vehicles
are faintly visible. The Ares-Riverston shipyards are not pictured.

Water on Mars was also an object of concern. No permanent water supplies existed on the surface, with large volumes of water being transported between the planets on dedicated aquaships and deposited in massive artificial reservoirs. For a sustainable source of water on the planet, Martian officials turned to the planet's polar ice caps, though some issues plagued the notion.

As mentioned Volume VIII, the transport and usage of nuclear weapons on other worlds was outlawed by Excelsior, which meant that the water ice in the Martian poles would need to be extracted using conventional explosives or asteroid bombardment, both of which were unfeasible in the long term. Though a water shortage on the cities of Mars was not likely in the short-term, Martian officials worried that, should regular transport of water to the planet be suspended to any reason, Martian reservoirs would not have the capacity to comfortably sustain Martian inhabitants beyond one year.

In 2134, Martian officials met and deliberated the issue, ultimately deciding that, without directly circumventing the nuclear weapons ban and causing an interplanetary incident, Martian water ice was inaccessible as of present. However, some Martian specialists proposed several novel ideas, including "heating drones", which were designed to fly over a region of the Martian ice caps continuously, eventually disintegrating it into liquid water and small chunks of ice. Though an atmosphere was forming with the continued controlled asteroid bombardment, the planet was nowhere near the pressure necessary to facilitate a global warming of the Red Planet. Heating drones were implemented sparingly over the ice caps, but Martian officials continued to pressure Excelsior to expedite the terraforming process so that Mars could at last have its own independent water systems.

Worlds In Reach

Hiker II had succeeded in facilitating the first ultra-Belt colony in human history, and in doing so, proved to Excelsior that, within the 22nd century, humanity could expand outwards through the Solar System and become an interplanetary civilization. As the settlers on Ganymede would prove, long-term settlements on other worlds in the System were now possible in the decades to come. Upon Hiker II's triumphant return to Earth on 23 August 2138, the world turned its attention beyond Luna and Mars, now with the promise of colonies deeper in space than previously thought possible for the time. As the 2140s began, mankind accelerated its colonial efforts, expanding through the outer Solar System with sights set on interstellar travel.

Success on Ganymede

Port Galileo, the Ganymedean colony Hiker II helped establish, developed quickly over the 2140s. Mainly, the colony served as a science and research facility, conducting probe launches into the Jovian rings and atmosphere while also drilling into the surface of Ganymede. However, it also served a different function, that could not be realized in the moment: it was to serve as the major port for all future Jovian colonies. Ganymede. being Jupiter's largest moon, was an obvious choice for a spaceport. Eventually, Port Galileo would evolve to become this. However, since humanity was still tentatively expanding into the outer System, and there were no colonies around the gas giants beyond Galileo, the colony bided its time, waiting for humanity's great push into the outer planets.

Hiker Fleet

With Hiker and Hiker II granting humanity access to the frontier planets of the System, Excelsior realized that the Hiker program needed to accelerate quickly if it was to meet the needs for a multi-planetary humanity. To this end, Excelsior contracted several new Hiker ferryships, as well as ordering Excelsior member-nations to draft designs for new spaceships, and eventually, starships.

Excelsior ultimately planned to establish a fleet of long-term, long-distance ships, and along with it, establish a network of colonies across feasible candidates in the Solar System, with heavy focus on the asteroid belt and gas giants of the System, mainly Jupiter. With Port Galileo already up and running by 2145, the prospect seemed achievable within the 22nd century. As for the fleet of ferryships and explorers, Excelsior had previously called upon its member-states to design new space-vehicles to begin supplanting this new trans-System fleet.

Construction on Hiker III and Hiker IV began in 2146 and 2147, respectively, over Luna. Both vessels were identical to their predecessor Hiker II, and were the beginnings of humanity's first actual space fleet. A united effort on Earth, all Excelsior states were expected to contribute. With La Paz de Los Ricos having rebuilt its space capabilities, the Ricano Omniflight Agency was permitted to join the rest of the world in assisting with the new Excelsior fleet. In 2148, the Omniflight Agency sent out long-range collector probes into the asteroid belt, bringing in several new asteroids to controlled Earth orbit to provide surplus materials for the effort.

Hiker III was completed on 16 April 2151, and immediately rushed to trial runs near Venus, while Hiker IV's completion was stalled until 11 December 2151. With these two new ships seeing completion, and the fifth ship in the series already partway in development, humanity had the opportunity to establish new colonies, supplementing the Ganymedean colony and seeing humanity emerging as a true interplanetary civilization.

Colonies on Callisto

Hiker III (left) over Callisto, Jupiter behind. Several
other moons are faintly visible.

Port Galileo proved successful as the first distant human settlement in the Solar System, ultimately paving the way for further colonies on the distant worlds. In the 2150s, Excelsior went back to Jupiter, this time choosing Callisto as the target of a second distant colony. This would also be Hiker III's maiden voyage, transporting the settlers and necessary supplies to the moon and returning to Earth shortly after.

Following Hiker III's return from trials, she was moved to Martian orbit for launch to take advantage of a window of proximity. On 3 February 2152, Hiker III departed from Mars orbit, destined for Callisto. Upon arrival at Jupiter in 2154, the ship passed by Ganymede for quick inspection of Port Galileo, where she saw a thriving colony slowly expanding across the moon. From there, Hiker III rounded Jupiter and entered Callistoan orbit, where on 5 July 2154, the colonists shuttled down to the moon and planted a flag, marking the beginning of humanity's second distant world colony.

Humanity's great rush to the distant worlds began proper that day. Ganymede and Port Galileo had been a monumental effort with only one ship at their disposal, but with Excelsior nursing an entire fleet-under-construction, it became clear over the mid-22nd century that the Solar System would become more accessible to humanity than at any point before.

Ambitions Elsewhere

Europa was already in humanity's reach, with Port Galileo on Ganymede and the Callisto colony closeby examples of already-established settlements in the region. Beyond Jupiter, Saturn's moon of Titan was also the source of some interest, notably for its oceans of liquid methane. Though not exactly habitable by human standards, Excelsior still wanted to extend its reach to that moon to continue growing its distant worlds colonization efforts. Saturnian ice fragments along its rings could also be used in the future to help grow Martian oceans. once its atmosphere had thickened sufficiently. Excelsior already had plans underway for colonies on around Jupiter and Saturn, but Venus and Mercury had, in the past, been largely ignored. In the 2150s, as the distant worlds became the main target for human expansion, Excelsior also brought Venus and Mercury under consideration. Mercury was seen as a candidate for a massive mining colony, as well as the main center for Solar research, due to its proximity to the star. Venus, with its surface under such heat and pressure, could not be colonized presently, not before techniques for venting its thick greenhouse atmosphere out into space could be perfected.

Over the 2150s, Excelsior built up its fleet, the distant worlds of the Solar System already in reach. However, alongside colonizing Earth's neighbors, Excelsior saw interests in the stars. The nearby Alpha Centauri star system, Sol's proximate, was a major source of attention and ambition in the mid-22nd century. Efforts in the 21st century to launch unmanned probes to the system were undermined by the efforts to develop Mars, and with the Hiker program producing spacecraft built to carry crew over extended missions, proponents of Alpha Centauri exploration declared that it was time to reach the Centauri system.

Ricania Expands To New Worlds

With La Paz de Los Ricos back in the Excelsior Pact, and the Ricano Omniflight Agency reformed and eager to return Ricania to space, the nation moved forward, ready to join Excelsior and the other nations of the world in expanding its reach to new worlds in the Solar System.

La Tierra Más Allá had been returned under the wing of the Ricano government, now administrated by the Space Angle of the Tetarolist system. However, regional authorities on the colony were reluctant about being brought under Ricano administration. Officials of Más Allá feared that Tetarolism would not work in practice as it was predicted to in theory, and that if the Ricano government somehow threw its priorities out of balance again, La Paz de Los Ricos would be at serious risk of political revolution and a fifth Reunification War that could potentially destroy the country.

Alongside this, wealthy Ricano expatriates who had moved to the colony in the aftermath of the Fourth Reunification War had influenced Más Allá's administration and authorities, and the next generation of rich immigrants in the colony feared losing this power permanently, and doing so to what they saw as an inefficient government on Earth. Citizens of La Tierra Más Allá urged the Ricano government militarize; increasing the might of the Iron Forces, they said, could deter another revolt from the civilians. The Tetralt denied, citing that there was no need to increase their military as the war was sixty years prior, and no revolutions had immediately followed the war. The Tetralt took note of an apparent lack of political understanding from the Más Allá aristocrats, and, concerned, assumed control of the colony.

With Excelsior facilitating colonization of the distant worlds, independent colonies on several Jovian moons were already being planned by world power, La Paz de Los Ricos among them. The Tetralt, spurred by the rapid development of La Tierra Más Allá in the span of a century, looked to the distant worlds as potential candidates for a second Ricano extraterrestrial colony.

Looking to Ganymede

On 17 March 2155, some time after Excelsior had established the international colony on Callisto, the Tetralt and the Tetarolist government met in Alvore̜sod, set to make a ruling regarding the nation's colonial ambitions to the distant worlds of the Solar System. For two weeks, the parties deliberated the issue. Some lawmakers wanted to hold a joint mission with the United States and Europe to reach Callisto and establish a second colony, while others felt it essential that La Paz de Los Ricos make the second attempt first. Still others felt La Paz de Los Ricos should shoot further, aim for Titan, and with that leap making it known to the world that, despite the Fourth Reunification War having demonstrated that Ricania may not have been ready for space travel, they were the opposite.

Ultimately, on 1 April, Ricano lawmakers decided that they would take Ricanos to Titan, and on its methane-pooled surface, establish the furthest human colony yet. In this same mission, the Tetralt hoped that the vessel could visit both Ganymede and eventually Titan further beyond, and the final verdict on the matter determined that this was the plan of action. To buy Hiker V, the fifth vessel in Excelsior's deep-space mission series which was nearing completion at the time, would require a massive fund.

The Titan-Ganymede mission was scheduled for the late 2160s, and on the interim, the Tetarolist government amassed what funds it could use for the purchase of Hiker V for one interplanetary flight. Along with the rest of the world, La Paz de Los Ricos prepared to set up its first colonies in the distant worlds.

▤ La Paz de Los Ricos ▤