- 1 Enter Synedrion, Stage Left
- 2 A better world
- 3 Deadlock
- 3.1 Against the mist
- 3.2 Biogenesis
- 4 The Matter of Why
- 5 Seeking the Firebird
- 6 The Man Who Would Be Pirate King
- 7 Sharing is caring
- 8 Attitude 74 reached
- 9 Comrades
- 10 Moonshot
- 11 Final mission
Enter Synedrion, Stage Left
Stop a group of thieves who have stolen critical research. Triggers when you first encounter Synedrion Haven.
At the Synedrion haven of [HavenName], the situation is tense. "Someone figured out that our open and democratic society would be easy to infiltrate and steal from," one of the haven's citizens tells our operatives. "They pretended to join us, and then made off with some critical research, which I assume they want to sell to another faction."
The citizen sighs. "I said they made off, but the truth is they didn't get very far. In fact, they're stuck in the haven. But as you can imagine, this is a strange situation. These people pretended to be our friends. They lived in [HavenName] for months. All just to make a profit... I suppose old habits die hard." We could assist Synedrion with this problem.
Stop a group of thieves who have stolen critical research.
You know, outsiders sometimes think of Synedrion as a bunch of naive, helpless people living in a big bubble, and I know we can appear that way, but the truth is... we're more like a powder keg. Trying to build a truly democratic society without hierarchies involves a lot of arguing! The Terraformers want one thing, the Polyphonic Tendency another, Zhara clashes with Nikolai, Stas tries to keep everyone calm, every haven has a totally different set of priorities, and then something like this happens...
I'm being honest about our flaws because I think, crazily enough, the whole thing works. We've built something remarkable, given everything we've been through, and the Phoenix Project could help us really make a difference on this wretched planet. Think about it, please. We have a lot in common.
And here's your payment. We believe in people being rewarded for their labor.
Player choice 1: Acts of solidarity do not require payment. Player choice 2: Thank you.
Acts of solidarity do not require payment
Athena: Then you have our gratitude.
Athena: You're welcome. I hope we can work together again.
A better world
Zhara: Synedrion probably seems strange to you. Trying to build a better world, a world radically different from the one most of us grew up in... well, I'm sure it sounds very utopian. But why do we so easily accept the world getting worse, and can never imagine it getting better?
Player choice 1: The world never gets better. Player choice 2: The world can get better, but not the way Synedrion is doing it. Player choice 3: The world can definitely get better.
The world never gets better
Zhara: And yet here you are, fighting for it anyway. I hope we can convince you that the struggle is worth it.
The world can get better, but not the way Synedrion is doing it
Zhara: Maybe you're right, and our whole approach is wrong. Maybe authoritarian capitalism is the only way to go. It's always possible. But we've been doing OK so far. I hope we can convince you that Synedrion is worth supporting.
The world can definitely get better
Zhara: I'm glad our values are aligned, at least in this matter. Please keep thinking about what kind of world you want to live in - maybe we can build it together.
Athena: You seem to genuinely be on our side, and everyone here at Synedrion really appreciates that. Please understand that we are cautious with organizations such as the Phoenix Project not because we're trying to be obstinate, but because we've had some pretty terrible experiences that we'd prefer not to repeat.
You know that I have high hopes for an alliance between the Phoenix Project and Synedrion. So my advice is this: what would be really helpful right now would be a more... direct demonstration of your support. That could really win some hearts and minds.
At this moment we have a couple of really important projects running. The sort that could actually change the future. Like improving our mist-repelling tech, which may allow us to peacefully co-exist with the new ecology. Or deploying a new breed of a modified plant to help us reclaim the planet for ourselves.
Believe me when I say we've had a lot of debates about which approach is better, and there are some pretty opinionated factions forming.
In any case, we're lacking enough people to support both projects at once, and it's a bit of a deadlock. So if you could lend a hand with one of them, that would mean a lot.
PLayer choice 1: Mist Repellers could help humanity regain its balance. Player choice 2: The planet is ours, and we should take direct control of its ecosystems.
Against the mist
Defend the Synedrion lab testing the new Mist Repellers from incursion. Triggers after choosing Player choice 1: Mist Repellers could help humanity regain its balance.
Athena: Zhara will be pleased to hear that. She is one of the most passionate advocates of... well, some people would say the original values of Synedrion, but it's hardly that simple. She's part of a loose coalition called the Polyphonic Tendency, which advocates solutions that reject all hierarchies, all forms of domination.
Mist Repeller technology could change the course of the war against the Pandoravirus; it could even make a kind of peace possible. But testing the tech is dangerous, and the labs frequently come under attack. We must ensure the test can be successfully completed by eliminating any potential hostiles.
Nikolai: I'm glad you decided to help us. But I hope both the Phoenix Project and the Polyphonic Tendency can at least recognize that these attacks on the Mist Repellers aren't a coincidence. Somehow, the Pandoravirus is defending its strategic interests. Tell me, do you think we can really co-exist with something like that?
Player choice 1: Even if it's challenging, this approach is worth pursuing further. Player choice 2: The Terraformers are right: we must reclaim the planet.
Even if it's challenging, this approach is worth pursuing further
The Terraformers are right: we must reclaim the planet
Deploy genetically-modified seeds in an attempt to retake the ecosystem. Triggers after choosing Player choice 2: The planet is ours, and we should take direct control of its ecosystems.
Athena: So you're more on Nikolai's side of this debate, are you? He's one of the Terraformers, the faction that believes in... well, I suppose you could call them radical humanists. They believe we should be unafraid to seize power for the people, to assert the supreme value of human life and civilization.
Site added to geoscape: Biogenesis
Synedrion has produced a genetically-engineered plant that may be resistant to the Pandoravirus. If successful, this experiment could help humanity reclaim the planet by designing a new ecosystem, as favoured by the faction known as the Terraformers.
But before that can happen, the plant has to be tested in the wild. To that end, our operatives must place the seeds at the coordinates we were provided with.
Zhara: Your help is greatly appreciated, even though it's on a project I personally voted against. I'd just like to offer this one note of caution: it was the existence of a hierarchical society built on profit and dominance that led humanity to its present state. Let's try to avoid recreating such structures.
Player choice 1: Human dominance over the ecosphere is not the same as class society. Player choice 2: The Polyphonic Tendency is right. We must learn to live on the planet, not just own it. Player choice 3: Leadership is necessary.
Human dominance over the ecosphere is not the same as class society
The Polyphonic Tendency is right. We must learn to live on the planet, not just own it
Zhara: I'm glad our arguments are persuasive. There is no other way to successfully reach our goal.
Leadership is necessary
Zhara: Is it? I suppose it depends on whether people like myself should be considered leaders or just representatives. I hope I'm the latter, although I know there are those who disagree.
The Matter of Why
Barnabas: It would appear that diplomatic relations between Synedrion and the Phoenix Project are improving. This seems like a positive development to me, but I'm curious. Are you motivated by any kind of investment in our political and philosophical views, or are you just... doing your job?
Player choice 1: We agree with Synedrion. Player choice 2: We are protecting all factions without taking sides.
We agree with Synedrion
Barnabas: So you are a potential ally; not merely fighting the Pandorans, but attempting to realize a specific vision of the future. I will admit that I had hoped for this. As a token of our appreciation, let me share some valuable data with you.
We are protecting all factions without taking sides
Barnabas: Ah. So our short-term goals are similar, but our long-term goals are not necessarily aligned. Or perhaps you are still weighing your options. Unfortunate, but not unexpected.
Seeking the Firebird
Barnabas: You may or may not be aware that during the early stages of the spread of the Pandoravirus, several of the founding members of Synedrion were part of an organization called the Firebird Initiative, studying ways of stopping the virus. My calculations suggest that the Initiative could have significantly changed the course of human history, but unfortunately its operations were suspended after an ecoterrorist attack. Humans of that time appear to have had an irrational phobia of genetic technology, a pathology I, unfortunately, fail to understand.
We have always believed that all of the Initiative's research was lost, but we have recently unearthed evidence that suggests some of it was recovered. I'm sure you understand the immense value it could hold for our current projects.
We don't know whether the person who took the research is still alive, but we have the coordinates of his last known location. If you could help us investigate, we should consider it a major step in the furtherance of our common goals.
Our operatives have been tasked with investigating what happened to the individual who recovered the Firebird Initiative files. Unfortunately, the settlement where this individual lived appears to have been destroyed some time ago. With some luck, we may be able to retrieve a journal or notebook that could shed further light on this mystery.
Barnabas: How unexpected. The journal seems to suggest that the research was recovered by... the Phoenix Project. I assume that you are unaware of this, presumably due to the near-collapse your organization suffered after the severe cutbacks of the early 21st century. Apparently the surviving research was stored at a Phoenix Base designated Storage Facility 4. Not a terribly inventive naming scheme.
To complicate matters, before the collapse the local government sold Storage Facility 4 to Abdon Tusk, one of the billionaires that resulted from the old political system's malfunctioning distribution of resources, who turned it into a shelter for his company. Eccentric and possibly sociopathic to begin with, he has been driven to new extremes, styling himself as Pirate King and leading violent raids on defenseless havens.
Player reply: We will deal with this would-be king. Barnabas: I calculate a 98+% chance of armed conflict resolution.
TECH +100, MATERIALS +200, FOOD +200. Site added to Geoscape: The Man Who Would Be Pirate King.
The Man Who Would Be Pirate King
Retrieve the lost Firebird Initiative files and reclaim the Phoenix Base from Tusk the Pirate King. Triggers after finishing Seeking the Firebird mission.
Before the Pandoravirus, Abdon Tusk was an eccentric billionaire, best known for funding U.FO (a company selling alien invasion insurance) and his involvement in the Atmospheric Railway Disaster that left 108 people pulverized. Now he has declared himself Pirate King, raiding and looting havens with his mercenary army. Synedrion wants him stopped.
Athena: So something has survived of the Firebird Initiative after all. Stas and Nikolai will be pleased to hear that - they founded the Initiative, you know, back in the days when our disagreements weren't tearing us apart. Strange to think of two people who love each other so much being on opposite sides. But there I go involving you in Synedrion drama again.
Athena: Now, look... anything you share with us will be shared with everyone, but there's tremendous symbolism to who you share it first. Our whole internal discourse is increasingly being defined by the Polyphonic Tendency and Terraformers, and what you choose to do may affect who comes out on top in this debate.
Player choice 1: Humanity matters most. Share with Terraformers. Player choice 2: We must heal, not dominate. Share with Polyphonic Tendency. Player choice 3: We don't do Synedrion drama. Share with both.
Athena: I'm not surprised. Some people think the Terraformers are unusual or extreme, but what they're advocating is pretty much what humanity has always been trying to achieve.
Athena: I'm not surprised. The Polyphonic Tendency's ethical arguments are appealing, especially nowadays, when people keep insisting we can't have any ethics at all.
Athena: A sensible solution. I wouldn't know how to choose, either. Both sides are equally convincing and equally annoying.
Sharing is caring
Stas: Hi. We've been working together so well, I thought I'd send over a little gift. Just some new tech we've been working on here in the lab - new multi-mode fibers, quantum capacitors, self-sealing stembolts, that sort of thing. Does that sound good?
Player choice 1: Accept gift. Player choice 2: Reject gift.
Stas: Excellent! Honestly, I'm just excited to share this stuff. I spend so much time in the lab, it all becomes very abstract, you know? Just incrementing numbers, forgetting that there are real people out there whose lives are affected by the technologies we develop. Even the simple ones. Anyway! I'll let you get back to saving the world.
Stas: Oh. What a shame. Uh... well, I suppose that's politics for you. Always worrying about what other people will think.
Attitude 74 reached
The Real Virus
Destroy the Malthusian Revolt, a group of radical anti-natalists who have declared war on Synedrion and the Phoenix Project. Triggers when Synedrion's attitude to Phoenix Project is 74 and player was more friendly towards Terraformers.
Nikolai: It would appear that we have a problem - and one of our own making, at that. Synedrion has always had something of a "big tent" approach to ecological issues. Unfortunately, sometimes that tent is a circus tent, and now the clowns are revolting.
I'm sorry, I become sarcastic I'm irritated, and it's better to speak clearly: a group of anti-natalists who call themselves the Malthusian Revolt have broken away from Synedrion and declared war. To prove that they're serious, they sabotaged one of our labs, killing eleven innocent people.
Apparently, they believe that humanity is the real virus and that our techno-extractive role must come to a violent end, or some misanthropic nonsense to that effect.
Player reply: The Phoenix Project will stop them.
The radical anti-natalist group that calls itself the Malthusian Revolt believes that humanity, not the Pandoravirus, is the real threat to Earth's ecosystem. They have declared war on Synedrion and the Phoenix Project and already taken several lives. The purpose of this assault is their total defeat.
Nikolai: So it's done. I can't say I feel sorry for them, their beliefs were just too poisonous for that. But it is a terrible business, transforming the world, isn't it? So much bloodshed. We should never get used to it. Never. There may not be a choice now, but we have to remember that the whole point of all this conflict is to achieve peace. To break out of the old patterns and seize control of our fate. The hardest task in human history, but the most necessary. I believe that this alliance between the Phoenix Project and Synedrion is going to be a big part of that. Together, we can do this. We can win.
Player reply: Enter alliance
Zhara: I suppose we should have known that trying to find a solution to the Pandoravirus would come at a cost, but did it have to be like this? Recently several prominent Synedrion scientists have gone missing. We thought they had been kidnapped, but we have just uncovered proof that they've been the victims of the Typhon Brigade, a paramilitary organization associated with New Jericho. No, let's speak clearly. A death squad. Our people are dead, all of them. Executed for betraying the cause of pure humanity.
Player reply: The Phoenix Project will help you stop them.
Zhara: They thought we were weak. Because we don't subscribe to their beliefs, because we don't think everything can be solved by owning or killing, they thought we were going to surrender the human cause. And they thought we wouldn't defend ourselves. Wouldn't use violence if necessary. Let's show them the depth of their error.
The Typhon Brigade is a New Jericho-affiliated paramilitary group that has been kidnapping and executing Synedrion scientists. The purpose of this mission is to bring their reign of terror to an extremely definite end.
Zhara: They're dead? Good. I abhor violence, but there are actions that simply cannot be tolerated. And so the alliance between Synedrion and the Phoenix Project is sealed. Not the way I had imagined it, to be honest... but I suppose it's appropriate enough for the most horrifying time in human history. Now let's work on surviving long enough to build a world without death squads.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us. Making the world a better place... well, it's certainly not an easy task.
Athena: We've been through so much together. Or let's put it this way: you've done so much for us. Our history is so full of betrayal and disappointment that sometimes it's hard to remember that there are others out there who really do share our values.
TECH +300, MATERIALS +400, FOOD +800.
Stas: So, some time ago I came across a classified Phoenix Project report from 1973. It turns out, and I genuinely couldn't believe this was true at first, that in the 70s the Phoenix Project actually sent people to the Moon. Twice! But the mission to the Tsiolkovskiy crater went terribly wrong. The astronauts in the lander became... infected, I suppose, and committed suicide by opening the hatch. Protecting the Earth is a heavy burden. The incident almost destroyed the Phoenix Project. It ended Newton Sumrall's career and began the long decline that seems to only have ended recently.
But then I realized - meteorites! That must be how the Yuggothian Entity is sending the Pandoravirus to Earth. And the Moon functions as a kind of shield. That's what they must have found. A much, much older iteration of the Pandoravirus. If we could get our hands on that, the insights to be gleaned from it would be tremendous. So! I, uh, planned a mission to the Moon. Unmanned, mind you, I'm not crazy. And now we're ready to actually make it happen. Except for one problem: the Pandoravirus creatures seem very interested in blowing up our rocket.
Player reply: That's where the Phoenix Project comes in?
Stas: Exactly! Help us defend the launch site, so we can get my robot to the Moon. Wow, I can't believe I just said that. I feel like a mad scientist. Igor! Launch my robot to the moon - for science! Hah. Oh wait, I think I just came up with a good name for the probe.
Synedrion is launching an unmanned mission to the Moon to study an older iteration of the Pandoravirus using a robot called IGOR-1. Our task is to help defend the launch site from attack.
Stas: Wow. We did it. We actually did it. I'm... I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. We sent a robot to the Moon during the freaking apocalypse! Oh, man. Oh, man! I can't believe that actually worked. Uh, right. So. We'll share all the data IGOR-1 sends with you straight away.
TECH +220, MATERIALS +650, FOOD +400.
Liberty or Death
Storm the Palace and inject the Receptacle with a retrovirus that will free its slaves. Triggers when Synedrion researches Project Liberation, Moonshot mission is finished, Phoenix Project is not in a war with Synedrion and player was more friendly towards Polyphonic Tendency or neutral.
Zhara: It is an unavoidable fact that our original plan is no longer feasible. As long as the alien ecology remains chained to the entity that controls it, evolving side by side on this planet will be a fantasy. But that does not mean that we have to abandon our attempt to create a more balanced, more integrated society. No, what we must now do is extend our opposition to hierarchies to the creatures of the Pandoravirus. We must free them so we can be free ourselves.
Player reply: The Phoenix Project is ready.
Zhara: It's now or never. The Palace is a terrible threat, but its sheer concentrated power is also its greatest weakness. We have found a way of using its connection to the Pandoravirus to send a signal that will permanently break the link between the Entity and its slaves. I don't understand the science of it myself, but Stas describes it as "changing the permissions in a file system." The only problem is that to achieve this, we'll have to inject a retrovirus into the core of the Palace itself.
One more mission and the war could be over.
The Palace is the final step towards the Yuggothian Entity's triumph, but it's also its biggest weakness. With the help of Synedrion, we will storm the Palace and inject the Receptacle with a retrovirus that will sever the link between the Entity and its slaves, freeing them from alien control.
Synedrion Polyphonic Tendency victory.
The Master's Tools
Storm the Palace and inject the Receptacle with a retrovirus that will give humanity control of the Pandoravirus. Triggers when Synedrion researches Project Liberation, Moonshot mission is finished, Phoenix Project is not in a war with Synedrion and player was more friendly towards Terraformers.
Nikolai: The time has come. The master of the Pandoravirus is building his earthly Palace, and soon he will download himself to his new kingdom. Unfortunately, he has not yet realized what tends to happen to kings on this planet.
But how do we overthrow such a powerful cosmic entity? The Pandoravirus is the key.
You see, the Pandoravirus is not just a weapon; it's a way of propagating large-scale ecological change. In other words: it's a terraforming tool. And we can seize that tool for ourselves. We can use it to design an ecosystem that promotes human flourishing and leaves no space for would-be alien god-kings. Stas has figured out how we can achieve this, and appropriately enough, it involves storming the Palace.
Player reply: The Phoenix Project is ready.
Nikolai: Then let us make this happen. Let us win.
The Palace is the final step towards the Yuggothian Entity's triumph, but it's also its biggest weakness. With the help of Synedrion, we will storm the Palace and inject the Receptacle with a retrovirus that will allow us to seize control of the Pandoravirus and use it to terraform the Earth.
Synedrion Terraformers victory.