Time: 6 weeks before H-Hour
Reports at the UGC Annual Energy Summit in Moscow reveal that Apollo is now supplying approximately 75% of the Earth’s energy resources, up from 67% a decade ago. The colony also handles 55% of all confidential energy-related research.
In his speech, outgoing UGC premier Diego Miguel hails Apollo’s contributions but announces that troop to civilian ratio on the colony will be boosted to a 30:70 – up from the current ratio of 15:85 – to protect humanity’s interests. Miguel argues that the precautionary measure is seen as necessary after protestors temporarily took control of Eden, the UGC’s first human settlement on Mars, a month before after the colony’s sole compliance nexus broke down. The uprising was quelled at the cost of 94 lives which included 12 security team members and 17 UGC marines.
Miguel fails to make an expected announcement which would grant greater political representation on the UGC Executive Board and civil liberties to the Apollo community which now numbers 400,000.
On Apollo, the news is not received well by civilians and security personnel alike. After decades of loyalty and uninterrupted energy supply, most colonists were hoping for a relaxation of laws which would do away with imposed curfews and the facility’s 7 Compliance nexuses. Intellectuals on Apollo have long been proponents of the “Freedom of the Will” movement.
Describing the events as “abysmal”, UGC Consul on Apollo, Jomo Abalunam – a former UGC Senator who now serves as the colony’s sole representative to the Board – promises to petition for a “new deal” which will serve the colony’s best interests.
Time: 5 weeks before H-Hour
In a highly publicised press conference, Jomo insists that the UGC chain of command failed to honour their word as the colony’s request for greater political mileage had “long been agreed on.” Abalunam argues that it is inconceivable for such a vital colony to have a mere 4% representation in the UGC Board. There is next to no UGC presence in other corridors of power.
Senator Jonathan Wilkins – Miguel’s protégé and frontrunner in the race to be the new premier – counters by saying that Apollo has long been appreciated and its request for greater political representation is “far-fetched” as the colony’s population pales in comparison to the Earth’s. Present in the meetings between Miguel and Jomo, Wilkins adds that although the Board agreed in principle to consider Apollo’s demands, nothing was set stone and the Terra tragedy convinced the Board that greater security measures were the priority.
Jomo disputes Wilkins’ account and states that the UGC is making a grave mistake by sidelining the vital colony.
On Apollo, unhappy colonists threaten to picket. The upheaval on Apollo overshadows the 4th edition of Remembrance Day – a public holiday on Apollo to commemorate of the death of Dr Constance Porizkova, a renowned scientist who developed HAL, a complex AI system which manages all of Apollo’s low-level support systems. At the time of her untimely death at 32, it was reported that Dr Porizkova had succeeded in instilling self-consciousness in AI systems. Her body was found in the HAL control room after she had successfully implemented major upgrade to the system.
The only positive of the week comes when scientists at the Hyperion research facility on Apollo announce that Project Origin – an alien DNA testing endeavour – has been an overwhelming success. The test subjects are 6 caterpillars whose genetic makeup has been fused with alien DNA, allowing them to grow to enormous proportions. - Used to clean up reactor waste, the gargantuan caterpillars have cognitive abilities which can be controlled by the compliance nexuses. Their behaviour was monitored for two years before the announcement was made and it is learnt that other research endeavours are showing much promise. Charlie, the “smartest” test subject later goes unaccounted for but its disappearance is kept under wraps.
Time: 4 weeks before H-Hour
Pickets and strikes begin on Apollo and its four sister colonies. Mining activities are reduced by 30% and the UGC negotiates with Jomo by proposing further talks regarding a fairer power sharing structure. Pushing the advantage, Jomo demands that the UGC suspend the planned troop shipments indefinitely and reduce existing military presence as a sign of good faith.
To avoid further halts in operation and to avoid any potential bloodshed, the UGC agrees after much deliberation and 20,000 marines are recalled, leaving a token force in the colony. Apollo security is now effectively managed by its security team, a paramilitary force which polices the facility.
Although most colonists support the struggle for greater rights and representation, Abalunam’s move does not go down well with some quarters and a Loyalist group emerges, pledging loyalty to the UGC. The Loyalist camp is headed by Ivan, a retired leader of the security team.
Respected by Loyalists and separatists alike, Ivan acts effectively as a two-way bridge in communication in an attempt to prevent civil war. A decorated UGC soldier with the rank of Colonel, Ivan earned his stripes by supressing rebellions in Sudan and Chechnya. However, his family were killed by rebels when they visited the former Soviet republic and Ivan requested a transfer to Apollo to start over.
Bessus Ozil, the son of a former UGC senator, establishes himself as the de facto leader of the Separatist camp after getting Jomo’s endorsement. Extremely critical of the UGC leadership – primarily that of Sen Wilkins – yet keenly aware of their inner workings, Ozil’s infectious charisma emboldens the Separatists and tensions rise to fever pitch.
Time: 3 weeks before H-Hour
Talks between Jomo and Miguel show early promise and the UGC media seeks to reassure the Earth’s population by declaring “peace in our time”. However, Ozil takes offence at the pre-emptive announcements and lead a two-day large scale strike on Apollo.
Getting involved personally in the negotiations, Ozil drives a hard bargain by requesting that the UGC grant all of Apollo’s requests immediately, plus sizeable medical compensations for all colonists on health grounds (constant exposure to solar radiation). Failure to do so would see Apollo reducing energy supplies to Earth.
Baulking at the demands, the UGC proceeds to call Ozil’s bluff and talks are suspended indefinitely. Ozil instigates riots in Apollo and the shipments of energy supplies dwindle despite the best efforts of the security team to maintain law and order.
At Jomo’s behest, Ozil reluctantly agrees to return to the negotiation table as the UGC promises not to impose martial law on Apollo in good faith.
Time: 2 weeks before H-Hour
A reactor meltdown at HK-II – Apollo’s main processing plant – occurs, effectively halting the colony’s export of energy supplies. Technicians are at a lost to determine the cause of the incident and plant logs do not show any sign of human error.
The news breaks and negotiations reach an impasse. The UGC leadership accuses the Separatists of bringing the agreement of good will into disrepute and threaten military action. Jomo is ejected from the UGC Board and an emergency general meeting is called to determine an appropriate course of action.
Convincing his peers in the Board that violence – and the potential loss of key personnel – can be averted, Wilkins receives the green light to make full use of Apollo’s compliance nexuses which were only used to reduce aggression levels by 10-15%.
With Miguel’s blessings, Wilkins is given the responsibility to resolve the situation. It is understood that Wilkins sought the counsel of Dr Caleb Bergmann, a renowned scientist – and husband of the late Dr Porizkova – before arguing his case. In an online report, the UGC Herald reports that Dr Bergmann was once persona non grata on Apollo as he tried to convince his wife to halt work on HAL. The report is later retracted on Wilkins’ orders.
A previously planned military takeover is postponed indefinitely but mobilisation continues at the behest of hardliners within the UGC like General Jan Koller, an 11th-generation soldier. Wilkins has 21 days to reach a solution.
Civilian travel between Earth and Apollo is suspended. In anticipation of depleting energy reserves, major cities begin cutting power for several hours each day.
Time: 1 week before H-Hour
Pre-empting the UGC’s move, Ozil imprisons Dr Gunjan, the man responsible for calibrating the compliance nexuses on Apollo. The nexus’ control centres are placed under armed guard and the only way the nexuses can only be accessed is through HAL.
A perplexed Wilkins turns to Dr Bergmann for help and the scientist convinces the senator that he has the necessary knowhow to harness the potential of his wife’s creation. Wilkins pleads with General Koller to dispatch three elite Black Ops squadrons to guarantee the safety of Bergmann and his team.
Bergmann also receives authorisation to take charge of the Hyperion research facility in order to extract vital research data that could be lost in any potential chaos.
Time: 6 days before H-Hour
Dr Bergmann departs for Apollo with his trusted assistant, Dr Hidetoshi Tanaka. Dr Tanaka was the former director of the Hyperion for five years and significant progress on alien DNA research was made during his tenure.
Upon arrival, Dr Bergmann meets with both Ozil and Ivan to hear their respective accounts of the situation.
Dr Bergmann assumes control of the Hyperion and the facility’s communications are taken offline. In a conference call with Wilkins, Dr Bergmann insists that the measure is necessary as there is a splinter group of scientists who are on the verge of disclosing confidential information which could jeopardise the situation on Apollo.
Time: 5 days before H-Hour
Despite Ivan’s protests on the need for subliminal manipulation, Dr Bergmann seals off HAL’s control room and commits himself to 12 hours of solitary confinement.
Dr Bergmann later outlines Project Prometheus – a plan to utilise Apollo’s compliance nexuses – to Wilkins and expresses confidence that the move will restore calm to the colony within hours.
Unhappy at the Black Ops’ presence and Dr Bergmann’s eccentricities, Ozil escalates plans for a full scale revolt. Separatists begin taking over administrative offices.
Time: 4 days before H-Hour
Divisions cripple Apollo’s security team as personnel begin choosing sides. Almost half the force surrenders their badges in order to join ranks with the Separatists.
Dr Bergmann is increasingly seen preoccupied in HAL’s control room, oblivious to his surroundings. A concerned Black Ops squadron leader expresses his worries but Dr Bergmann assures Wilkins that all is well. However, the scientist fails to provide a mandatory update to Gen Koller.
Time: 3 days before H-Hour
In a damage control measure, Dr Bergmann orders the remnants of Apollo’s security team to secure the sister colonies that have been relatively untouched by rioters. A token force is left behind in a colony which is already regarded as lost.
Ivan makes a desperate attempt to resume negotiations by making a direct plea to the UGC Board to stop whatever Dr Bergmann is up to. However, his pleas are rejected and Wilkins reaffirms that the scientist is the best man for the task at hand.
A final update of the situation is presented and Wilkins orders Dr Bergmann to proceed with Project Prometheus. The commands are executed and the nexuses begin their transmissions at the stroke of midnight.
Time: 2 days before H-Hour
Communications with Apollo are cut at 2pm. The last transmission was Dr Bergmann’s update that the situation was well under control. The scientist also requests for more time to ensure that things are kept in check.
Reassured, Wilkins and the UGC Board toast the success of the operation despite earlier reports from Ivan and a number of security team personnel that the colonists are demonstrating strange behaviour.
Time: 1 day before H-Hour
Chaos breaks out on the isolated Apollo and its security team is overrun. The remnants of the force pull back to safe zones in the colony. Unable to request for help, their supply and numbers dwindle. The situation looks hopeless.
Apollo’s sister colonies request immediate assistance from the UGC after attempts to contact Apollo are blocked. Two convoys of security team personnel that were sent to investigate have failed to return.
Wilkins begins to worry after further attempts to contact Dr Bergmann, Ivan and even Ozil fail. Gen Koller urges Wilkins to consider military action.
Time: 10 hours before H-Hour
Acting under duress, Dr Bergmann authorises Gen Koller to send an expeditionary force to ascertain the Apollo situation. Alpha Company – an expeditionary response team based on the orbiting Vigil space station – is ordered to investigate Apollo and reassert control of the situation.
A second force, Easy Company, is ordered to prepare for deployment should the need arise.
Time: 6 hours before H-Hour
Alpha Company lands on Apollo under an intense firefight. Less than 2 hours later, the fleet loses communications with the men of Alpha Company. They are presumed dead, if not worse.
Time: 4 hours before H-Hour
Deciding to take matters into his own hands, General Koller orders Easy Company to reinforce Alpha Company.
Back in Shanghai, UGC Headquarters for East Terra, all financial trading has been suspended. Investors and brokers are told that network issues are the cause.
All forces aboard the Vigil are ordered to mobilise under Code 4 alert.
Time: 3 hours before H-Hour
Communications go back live momentarily as Alpha Company reports that the situation is under control. However, communications are cut again as the team leader explains the anomalies encountered along the way.
Attempts to re-establish communications are futile and Easy is advised to utilise a different landing zone to enter the colony under the radar.
The relationship between Wilkins and General Koller sours as the senator realises that the military supremo has acted without his approval. Humanity's future is now at stake in the distant sands of Apollo.
Easy Company lands on an early colonization site near Apollo.
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