The Interval of Hope
Our civilization then entered a “holding pattern” period for the next twenty years. Reconstruction was the focus of the next two decades; our people had to recover from the ravages of war before we could move on. They were hard years as the heady euphoria of victory was slowly replaced by the hardships of reconstruction. The economy had become stagnant and trade lackluster; in 143 AC, the economy tipped over into recession, and the difficulties intensified. Calls for Sagitarrian independence and liberation resurfaced, and Government mismanagement of that situation merely fanned the flames. Attempts by the Government to nip the problem in the bud with harsh measures designed to silence the activists merely added credence to their claims. It was in this period that Tom Zarek rose as a prominent Sagitarrian advocate of independence. While he never publicly supported violence as a legitimate tool of political change, there is little doubt that Zarek was a leader of the terrorist rings that first surfaced in 147 AC. These rings instituted a wave of attacks on Sagittaron against Government buildings and officials. The attacks soon spread beyond those targets and Sagitarrian citizens could no longer count themselves safe; indeed almost forty Sagitarrians had died as “patriots” before the year’s end.
Further Government attempts to subdue the insurgents escalated the situation beyond control – Zarek was captured, convicted of treason, and sentenced to twenty years in a Sagitarrian penitentiary (ironically the Government dumped all of its undesirables on Sagittaron). In response, a year after Zarek’s internment in jail, Sagitarrian “freedom fighters” occupied the Helios-1 Power Plant on Aerelon and delivered an ultimatum demanding the release of all “political prisoners” or face the consequences of an uncontrolled tylium reaction of unimaginable proportions. The resulting conflagration of such a detonation would have leveled the city of Megara, population 5 million. To make matters worse, the terrorists had also captured fifty of the plant’s workers and were using them as human shields to guarantee their safety.
President Adar, newly installed as the President of the Twelve Colonies, ordered Colonial Marines in, despite the danger to the hostages. In the resulting skirmish to retake the plant, sixteen prisoners were executed by the terrorists before the Marines could secure them. At the end of it, however, Colonial personnel were in control of the Helios plant, Zarek was still incarcerated and Megara was safe. The loss of sixteen hostages, however, provoked outrage amongst the electorate, and many thought that Adar’s career was over. Many misjudged his acute sense of political savvy; he survived attempts to impeach him in the Quorum, and regained election at the end of his term, largely helped by an upswing in Colonial economic performance.
Adar had a firm grasp of economic policy, and an excellent Treasury Minister in Helen Merry. Under their steady guidance, the Colonies had once again crawled up the slippery slope back to prosperity in the middle of his first term. The proscription against robotics and networks remained firmly in place and reinforced in 156 AC when the Quorum passed the Act of Regulation (Artificial Intelligence) despite strong lobbying against the bill from commercial interests (particularly from Geminon). For all intents and purposes, humanity was back to the place where it was before the Great War, and our people settled in for another prolonged period of peace. Or so they thought.