Beyond the Stars, Week 2

Wolf Beetles had begun to circle Tiangong with increasing regularity. While I was hesitant to begin an all-out assault on the indigenous life of Reihl, my first priority was the survival of the Pan-Asian Cooperative (PAC). I activated Tiangong’s defenses and destroyed a pack of beetles, and the others began to keep their distance from my city. It was hard, but it had to be done.

My first priority was the survival of the Pan-Asian Cooperative.

Then I was faced with a Quest Decision, one of my favorite aspects of Beyond Earth that facilitates emergent gameplay. My colony had brought plants from Earth to this new planet, and some had somehow taken root outside of the colony. Not only were they surviving, they were invasive and thriving. If they were left unchecked, they would have ended up changing the local environment to an Earth-like ecosystem. However, I couldn’t let our comfort jeopardize the ecology of this planet, the same as humanity’s presence had on Earth. I culled the escaped sprouts, and maintained the plant life of Reihl.

Then an internal situation had been brought to my attention. Among the many things brought for our journey, a relic of Old Earth somehow found its way aboard. It created an ideological rift between my citizens, with some wanting to keep it revered and hidden, while others wanted it studied and displayed for the public. I didn’t want to make the mistakes of the governments from Earth, and declared it should be accessible to everyone. Transparency was of the utmost importance to me as a ruling figure.

Transparency was of the utmost importance to me as a ruling figure.

A team reported to me that they had been excavating the nearby giant alien skeleton for the past few months, and small aliens had appeared from the wilds. The team was alert at first, but whatever reverence and loyalty they had held for the dead giant seemed to have been transferred to my team. And just like that I was in command of a swarm of giant drones. I was still settling my city, so I let the drones explore at will, reporting back anything important.

Soon, Hutama of Polystralia alerted me to his concerns. He felt we were encroaching on salvage and artifacts too close to his settlement. I held my tongue that the PAC had settled the area first, and agreed to search further from his established territory. My earlier fears were being realized, and I knew soon enough there would be more squabbling about land disputes.

My earlier fears were being realized, and I knew soon enough there would be more squabbling about land disputes.

Not long after Kavitha Thakur of the Kavithan Protectorate approached me with an agreement, wanting our two colonies to form a better partnership. With Hutama already issuing demands on unclaimed land, I knew becoming better allies with Kavitha was necessary for my colony’s survival.

Suddenly the ground shook, and right outside of Tiangong’s boundary a siege worm appeared. It was colossal, moving through the earth as easily as swimming through water, and I knew not even my city’s defenses could bring the beast down. I had no choice but to hold my fire and hope the beast would leave. Luckily, it did. But it had brought to my attention that I still knew very little about the planet. It was well and fine not to want to terraform the world to suit me, but I had no defenses should the wildlife attack. I began to train soldiers immediately and send them to the borders, shielding the city from outside threats. I just hope I have the strength to be frugal with my military use, even if it would be the quickest route.

The pressures of ruling had begun to crowd me quickly. It’s growing more difficult to navigate diplomatic waters, and dealing with the wildlife has quickly changed from amazed on looking to frightened readiness. I don’t want to kill anything, much less something as majestic as the siege worm, and I’m worried I’ll have to. Further, who even knows what’s out in the wilds, possibly something to make the siege worm look like a grub. I’m beginning to understand that I need to prepare my people for anything, even if that would have to be conflict.

Tune is again next week, as Tiangong seeks to expand its borders, and raise the military might to defend them.

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Dimitri Jordan is a freelance writer and editor, pursuing a Master's in Applied Sociology and a PhD in Gerontology. When he's not in class he enjoys looking up at the night sky, imagining who would win between the Geth and the Borg, and wishing he could become a xenoanthropologist.

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