What does a “Greater Galactic Mars” mean anyway? If you ask Chief Executive Officer, Ksum Nole, leader of the Minerva corpocracy, the fastest growing country in the galaxy, sprawled across the Hellas Planitia on the lowest lying plain of Mars, he’s made himself very clear.
“I think if you’re going to choose a place to die, then Mars is probably not a bad choice…, and as we continue to achieve new heights and standards in interplanetary living, we must be willing to defend our new home. No longer will Minerva tolerate harassment by rival states, terrorist regimes, or space pirates. Nor will we continue to wait for the United Planets feckless peace processes to pan out.“
CEO Nole has consistently delivered on some wild promises, but critics point to a creeping militarism within the Minervan capital city of New Aldrin. Just last week, more than 140,000 citizens gathered on Douglas Adams boulevard to protest the opening of a new Army base on the settlements outskirts. But, there are those who welcome the new base, including several guild houses hailing the economic possibilities of an increased military budget.
One particularly influential citizen within Minerva’s Direct Democratic Congress, Linus Mallard III, has called the defense strategy laid out by Nole, via the planetary NeuraLink, wholly insufficient, and gave a warning, “this shining new city, on a Martian plain, will be subsumed by the aging and greedy governments still controlling Earth.”
Mallard, a blogger, engineer, and citizen, who like all Martians can call himself a congressman, due to the direct voting system, has complained the Minerva Defense Force has grossly misdirected funds. While at the same time, the Population Department has raised interest rates on unpaid migration loans, taken out by millions of early pioneers. He has also called out numerous Army generals and Space Force admirals for their shocking levels of graft.
Yev Kaminski, the CEO’s lead adviser, has threatened a complete overhaul, and a potential need to “gut” the entire Defense Department, after concerns it has wasted trillions purchasing equipment not in line with the hostile realities of the galaxy. Kaminski has gotten CEO Nole to commit to a complete defense review beginning next month.
Once the review is over, he hopes to rebuild the Army, Navy, and Space Force with the capabilities to further growth, both territorial and economic. Expansion will be key on Mars, as plans are underway to build the galaxy’s largest spaceport within the next decade. PortHenry will serve as Nole’s launching pad into the far reaches of the Milky Way, including a possible fishing colony on Europa.
When pressed about his own ideas of defense and self determination, Nole suggested a new priority, to focus Minerva’s military ambitions on the next battlefront, the human brain, and collective conscience. Speaking during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the newest battery factories in the Ellison lavatubes, Nole expounded,
“Nothing will threaten our minds. Our senses will remain free, and we will continue to pursue the enlightenment of neurons and synapses. In addition, the supply and trading lines back to the cradle of humanity will always be of paramount importance. Our people remain bonded to those on Earth, and all those other bits of humanity spread across the galaxy.”
Minerva still finds itself behind the major military players on Earth, including the United States of North America, the Chinese Union, and Russo-Euro Conglomo. To compete, Mars will need to ramp up raw material collection along some of its richer mineral veins, notably the “Homestake” ore fields on the Meridiani plain.
Even though Nole has buttressed his military power with unprecedented automation programs, and highly advanced A.I systems, some fear Mars may be subject of a hostile takeover.
Minerva’s undersized Army has used many creative methods to remain a potent deterrent. Military leadership all use a secret version of NeuraLink, allowing an unimaginable level of coordination, giving small Minervan units a force multiplier well beyond their normal firepower. In one instance last year, a mining crew deployed by the Resources and Exploration department were wrangling asteroids into a working orbit, only to be held hostage by a large pirate fleet from rouge lunar nations.
Finding themselves surrounded, they were commanded to transfer anything of value under the threat of death. Captain Minnow of the Minervan vessel, MSS Seebee, deployed his thinker drones. Using his NeuraLink, the captain manipulated multiple defensive weapons at once, visualizing missile strikes, enabling the Seebee to flee with its entire haul. The combined attack from explosive drones, missiles, and nanobot swarms caused immense damage, inflicting an 80% causality rate upon the pirates.
Recent behavior from the collective nations of the Moon has caused a crisis. The Moonies seizure of 20 resources freighters, has shown the Minerva Space Force they need more quick response ships then they do lumbering battleships.
Former Admiral William FitzMoreGerald’s last blunder before dismissal involved the designing, construction, and purchase of two instantly obsolete Intragalactic battleships. Susceptible to all sorts of weaponry, from singularity missiles to nanobot mines, the ships now sit anchored in low Mars orbit. The two useless behemoths, nicknamed Castor and Pollux, have come to symbolize how out of touch the admirals and generals have become.
Nole has acknowledged as much, saying “What we Martians need are not symbols of old power, but fresh ideas and approaches that will liberate us from the bloody business of war. We have no intentions to be aggressive, to preserve what we’ve worked so hard to achieve.”
Some defense analysts suggest the two battleships may be sold off in an attempt to quickly recover assets and route them to more practical productions. Mothballing is out of the question, the ships are more complex than some Earth nations could hope to achieve in thousands of years, and there is likely to be no shortage of bidders. The Australian Confederacy is said to be keenly interested, as they were among the last nations to reach space, yet have a large need to secure their own galactic trades routes.
Another defensive deficiency has come to be known as the mindpower gap. The Armed Forces of the burgeoning alien nation have been unable to recruit enough mental pilots to control all of the ships and drones produced in local military Giga-factories. Even with the recent influx of Earth immigrants, Minerva still has a population deficit to overcome.
Mars needs more brains.
Currently there are about 14 billion humans on Earth, with triple the number of Artificial Intelligences’, and 700,000 on the Moon. Mars, and the Minerva corpocracy has approximately 2 billion humans, and about 3 billion A.I’s according to the daily census.
Kaminski, and Nole himself, hope the shift from legacy platforms to those most necessitous will be quick.
Minerva will need to focus on satellite protection, NeuraLink security, and defense of local planetary space. The Sailors guild put forward a plan to 3-D print enough merchant marine cruisers to support a intragalactic convoy system, reminiscent of the United Kingdom during the World Wars of the 20th century.
Nole’s secret weapon will likely end up being the nearly completed antimatter reactors to be installed on all new Minervan vessels. A retrofitting program will also look to upgrade the existing fleet. Additionally four large ground based plants sporting the revolutionary reactors will soon be switched online, giving the capital city, New Aldrin, enough energy to power the whole planet several times over.
Efficiency will be key, and as any good corpocracy knows, it’s all about maximizing profit margin while delivering killer products, be they the latest MarsTruk, NeuraLink patches, or jumbo A.I space frigates. The CEO has also splurged in the name of good governance, building a super vessel known as Buff Mage 1, a floating war room and drone carrier, or as some have coined it, ‘Space Force 1.’
Kaminski will now be overseeing procurement, with Nole maintaining veto power and control of general direction. The hope is Minerva defense forces will be ready come the busy harvest and shipping season. They’ll need to defend trillions worth of cargo imports and exports between Mars, Earth, the Moon, and thousands of satellite communities.
Artificially intelligent Klemens von Metternich-bot, Nole’s geopolitical adviser summarized the government’s position during a recent mental press conference, “As a young and newly recognized country, Minerva, given official status from the United Planets organization only 22 years ago, must grow and maintain tools to defend its interests at home and across space, seeking no more than peace, security, and the freedom to explore the red planet and the nature of the universe itself.”
In the next few months talks are to be held between celestial diplomats at the Mars Hilton in downtown New Aldrin. It remains to be seen whether the upstart nation will forge closer bonds with the collective nations on the Earth and the Moon, or if it will drift into another isolation of the ‘reds’. The meeting is set to be tense, as Martian representatives try to placate a very aggressive Presidentor of the United States of North America. More than anything else, Minerva, Nole, and all those who call Mars home will have to be nimble in the face of rapidly changing galactic politics, and mind bending technological advancement sweeping the planet.