This story is in my book "The Honeycomb Comet" which is now available at Author House -- Amazon -- Barnes and Noble and other fine book sellers, search for "Roger Bourke White Jr."

The First Siege of Titan

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright Oct 2007

The Place: The Celebration Dinner for the Groundbreaking on Titan City 3 complex (TC3).

TC3 is on Saturn's moon, Titan. The major settlements on Titan are built over rocky inclusions that are in Titan's mostly ice crust. These rocky inclusions are the rocky/metallic remains of small asteroids which hit Titan in geologically recent times -- the most recent hit happened about the same time that the recent Ice Ages started on Earth. In Titan's light gravity, these smaller asteroids have not yet broken through the crustal ice and sunk to the core. Because they are close to the surface they provide both raw materials and a structural anchor for human settlements. Titan's surface ice where there are no rocky inclusions underneath tends to move around slowly but steadily as part of moon-wide plate tectonic systems.

There are three big inclusions, so, with this launch of Titan City 3, the major outline of Titan Colony's growth is complete. Titan Colony population can grow much larger, but the "three big cities"-structure will be at the heart of all further growth. So, this is a big moment in modern Titan Colony history.


The Honored Speaker

John Tremolo, finder of the Hulk 2 fragment and Titan Colony's most successful businessman is speaking:

"It's truly amazing how much Titan has changed. I first came to Titan as an assistant researcher, six months before John Burnmeshorts discovered his Honeycomb Comet. In those days there was just one base on Titan. It had a capacity for 500 people, had 200 people living here when I arrived, and the next planned capacity expansion was in 20 years.

"It's been forty five years since I came, and we have... how many people now?... [consults with an aide] One million one hundred thirty five thousand! Wow! What a surprise this has been to those 200 of us that were on Titan when Burnmeshorts made his discovery.

"We now have large cities now... well... large by some standards. [laughing in parts of the audience. Shanghai is now the Earth's largest with 30 million people, and a half million is considered a town in most parts of East Asia and Latin America.], a respectable GNP [no laughing at that, Titan Colony per capita GNP is number seven in the Solar System] and even some culture [Titan is a distant, but profitable, venue for entertainers on tour. The headline entertainer for this event is the number four soft pop singer in the Solar System.].

"All this growth has taken a lot of cooperation and a lot of work. We are particularly delighted to see so many delegates from Earth at this Inaugural. That is perhaps the most exciting thing about this celebration.

"So, I say: Congratulations to all, Welcome to all, and let the partying continue!"

As John sat down to let the MC continue on, he thought more about just how much change had come to Titan....

His mind went back to forty five years ago. He was getting off a shuttle and getting settled in on the new base along with ten other new recruits. The chief personnel officer was leading them around and introducing them to people as they moved from cabin to cabin and deposited newcomers.

"Here is yours, John." he said as he opened the door, but inside was a person on the bed in just underwear watching a video.

"Whoops, excuse me, Hansley.... aren't you in 401?"

"You forgot. I was promised this room when Shankar left." he said, "401 is open and I cleaned my stuff out." He never bothered to stop watching the video while he said all this.

"Ah... right." said the Personnel Chief, and he closed the door, and when we got to 401, I had my home.

In those days life on Titan was that simple and easy. Titan had only one base and it was a scientific one for researching Titan. No one "lived" on Titan, lived as in made it a permanent home. We Titan residents came, we did our research time, and we shuttled back to Earth.

Then, six months after I arrived, Burnmeshorts found the Honeycomb Comet. My goodness what a change! In many ways, Titan got lucky at that point. Burnmeshorts was a Belter -- a person who made the Asteroid Belt between Jupiter and Mars his home. So, it was logical for a Belter base to become the center for Honeycomb research and exploitation. But the good luck for Titan was that Saturn was just swinging towards the Honeycomb in it's orbit, so it had better access to the Honeycomb than anywhere in the Belt did.

This is why Burnmeshorts stopped at Titan on his way back, and why I got to be one of the first people to handle HX relics. The base people helped Burnmeshorts sort out the stuff and do the preliminary classifications. That's how intimate things were in Belter life, and Titan life, back then. With only 200 people and nowhere to hide, Burnmeshorts didn't worry about stuff "walking off" during that first sorting. He did, however, give gifts to all the crew.

All of us got a piece of the rock. Most of those who were on Titan base at that time still have their piece. Then and today, those pieces are priceless. One or two insensitive souls sold theirs for big money. I was one of those insensitive souls: I sold my piece and used the money to buy a share in the next ship headed for the Honeycomb: I could see that this was where the money and fame would come from in my decade, and I wanted my part! (I bought my piece back twelve years later. I won't tell you what I paid... but Ouch! That buyer of my piece did well for himself, too!)

I didn't actually get on that next ship, it went straight from The Belt to the comet. What I did to fill my spare time, until I was on a ship too, was search the sky for more pieces of Honeycomb comet. Burnmeshorts felt his Comet was just a fragment. If it was, there could be other fragments, and those would be valuable, too.

While I was busy doing my part, Titan was designated the secondary supply base for Honeycomb research. Yeah, secondary. Hey! we only had 200 people then, and only infrastructure for researching Titan, Saturn and the Rings! Getting even the secondary designation meant Titan base would triple in size and personnel as soon as supply ships could get here.

Even before the supply ships arrived, Titan started changing from a backwater science base into a beehive of high profile activity. Some of us, including me, ate up every newscast about Burnmeshorts and the Honeycomb relics. My goodness, I still remember how mysterious and sophisticated those first relics looked, and what he brought back were just the most-easy-to-find scraps! These days kids take the Burnmeshorts Relics for granted, but when I first saw them, they were wondrous! I was just a lowly researcher at a backwater science base, but I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I vowed I was going to get my share of this Honeycomb pie! It was going to be big!

When the supply ships came, Titan started it's transformation. I had Honeycomb-on-the-brain both day and night, and I talked on and on about what we would need to be a good staging area. With only 199 people to listen to me, word quickly got to the top echelon of base brass that I was someone worth listening to when base planning was the topic.

It killed me that none of those first wave of supply ships were going to head on to the Honeycomb, just killed me! God! I wanted to be on that rock so badly! But it wasn't until the third wave that a ship that was equipped and available to head to Honeycomb came to Titan. By then six ships had already landed at Honeycomb, and Hulk 1 had been found by Lucias Jonas, grandson of Elias Jonas, of Luck of Jonas fame.

My ship had come back, the one I had invested in with my piece of the Honeycomb, and it had done as well as I hoped. I was now a very rich man. At this point I did two totally crazy things: First, I used that fortune from the first ship to buy the explorer ship that had just come to Titan. Second, I didn't go to Honeycomb or Hulk 1 with it, I went to what I hoped would be Hulk 2 -- something I had spotted while I was waiting for my chance to head out. It was just insane! I was betting something like the wealth of the state of Utah on two dice rolls, and I had to win on both.

Fate made me a winner. Hulk-2 turned out to be real, and I was it's discoverer, and that turned out to be the last HX piece found in our Solar System. Yeah, I got Jonas Lucky.

Return to Titan

When I got back to Titan, I found the place was a mess. The top people at Titan had come to run Titan as a backwater science base. What the world... the Solar System actually, needed it to be now was something much bigger and something much more mainstream. It needed to be a primary base for HX research. This meant building the population to more like fifty-to-one hundred thousand people, plus associated infrastructure. The newcomers realized this, but the base leaders and the Earth government agencies funding the base hadn't caught up with this new way of thinking about Titan.

I was now an even richer man, and I had a big stake in making this turn out right because of my claim on Hulk-2. I did what I could to help....

I did many things that year (Earth year). First, I got back in touch with the Titan higher-ups and help them make some peace with the newcomers. None of the sides on this argument of how to grow Titan (there were many) had thought through clearly the implications of what Titan was to become if it was to become the primary base for Honeycomb/Hulk exploration and, more important, exploitation. I pushed and needled all sorts of people and within six weeks after my return to Titan we came up with a badly needed Preliminary Master Plan for Titan's growth (at that time it was always called The Preliminary). It was years later before a fully approved Final Master Plan finally appeared, because the plan was constantly changing. The Preliminary changed as often as every week, but it was something we could all refer to to see what was currently needed and currently forecast. It was so much better than the no-plan foundering that had been going on earlier that everyone breathed a sigh of relief. One of the first items on the plan was a name change: Titan Base became Titan Colony, the name we now use.

Second, I got together with newly arriving locals and started businesses that would service the HX trade in various ways. Ships needed to be loaded and unloaded. Ships needed to be outfitted for HX exploring. The HX stuff coming back needed to be warehoused and researched. The research findings needed to be cataloged in a way that made it useful for those who were headed out to do more exploring. The research and the real stuff had to be cataloged and stored in ways that were useful for those who wanted to make some money off of this stuff. There was a lot to be done, and I helped people get started on doing it.

The making money and giving credit where credit was due where two of the most critical things I worked on constantly. Exploiting HX technology was hugely profitable, but hugely risky -- there were accidents and in those accidents property got damaged and people got killed. One of the things I was adamant on, and kept the Titan Colony community focused on, was that accidents should not slow down exploitation. We shouldn't allow lawyerism to stop our exploiting. It was a hard fight all the way. That's why I had the big sign at the space port entrance say,

Welcome to Titan

Shit Happens Here

Yeah, I'm responsible for that famous sign. We first put it up to demonstrate another piece of HX technology: the "Shit Happens Here" part is done in an unrecordable display format: the human eye can process it just fine, but no camera or other video device can make a decent recording of it. To a recording device it looks like either static or another image. We put it up at first to be a "teaser": people could talk about the sign, but no one could take "evidence" of the sign back to Earth censors. The process is now a major cryptology component around the Solar System, and I have no idea how many tourists have taken pictures that show a woman sunbathing on the beach instead of the slogan (a later enhancement). We kept it up because the slogan meshes so well with Titan culture. Things do happen here, both good and bad.

In those early days it felt kind of weird for me. I was seeing what needed to be done real quickly. With each cargo load that was dropped off and examined, I could see what changes needed to be made to the plan. With each load of new settlers coming from the inner worlds, I could see what they needed to be doing. Those around me could see what I was talking about after I talked about it, but, left to do their own thinking they were slow and came up with ideas that missed part of the big picture. I guess that made me useful to the colony. It sure made me rich enough because my companies always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

That's not to say I didn't make mistakes, and some times they were big ones. But I did enough right that people mostly remember my right choices, not my wrong ones. That's why I'm here at this dinner, and being honored.

Titan's Early Problems

There were two problems we were constantly facing in those early days. First, the most interesting HX technology the explorers were finding was also the most dangerous. Imagine you are on a CIA secret submarine, and you are salvaging a Soviet-era submarine wreck abandoned on the ocean bottom. Your divers bring on board what they think is a fully armed Soviet A-bomb -- one which has only Russian writing on it, and is of a design no one in the ship knows anything about. The divers are, in fact, just guessing it's an A-bomb, it could be a Soviet-era microwave oven. If you're on the US sub, are you in a dangerous situation? The early days of Titan where just like that. The explorers were bringing back totally unknown stuff. Many people on Earth, and some on Titan, thought this was too dangerous to be doing.

The second problem was all the new people. People came to Titan for many reasons. The people on Titan when Burnmeshorts made his find where scientists who wanted to the study the outer solar system. Remember: in those days commercially useful space extended only to the Asteroid Belt. The pre-HX technology propulsion systems were all boost-and-coast, which is a technology that is too feeble to make anything beyond Belter orbit commercially feasible. These Titan scientists were not commercial, and they didn't mind spending a lot of time in a lonely backwater.

When the Honeycomb Comet was found, the next wave of people to come to Titan were the crazy get-rich-quick explorer types who had had bad luck exploring The Belt, or who had had good luck, but were so stupid and crazy that they didn't know when to stop. Either way, they were nothing like the monk-like scientists who were there before the Honeycomb find. There was tension.

The good news was, these explorers found a lot of useful stuff on The Honeycomb, and they brought it back to humanity by way of Titan. That brought another wave of people to Titan, now Titan Colony: the assessors and early exploiters -- the front-line engineers and business people who tried to figure out what the HX technology coming from Titan Colony was good for. This was a wave of scientists, engineers, business people and lawyers. Titan Colony was now a home for schemers and "suits"... and families! Hard as it was for their predecessors to believe, some of the people who came to Titan Colony in this exploiting wave wanted to make it "just like home" and "safe and healthy for raising children." Oh my goodness! Did that bring the pot to a boil!

So, by ten years after the discovery, Titan Colony was not a melting pot, but the Solar System's most famous Boomtown Boiling Pot, and Titan stories were a booming media genre.

Titan Colony suffered from one more thing: it suffered from The Curse of Being Important. Millions of people who should not have given a rat's ass about what happened on Titan were concerned about people's day-to-day lives there. When scandal hit Titan Colony, millions of bloggers on Earth started moralizing... which affected the money flow to Titan Colony as well as it's morals. It was crazy, but no crazier than a small research base in the outer Solar System suddenly becoming a legendary boom town.

Oh, and I should add, this growth from research base to town was made possible in large part because of some of the neat stuff that Burnmeshorts and his dozen or so immediate followers found. For instance, if the gasifier catalysts hadn't been found, then tunneling on Titan would have taken five times as long, and the space for housing and business wouldn't have kept up with demand -- Titan Colony would not have boomed as it did. Instead it would have become just a larger base, not a boom town, and the HX boom town would have been built in The Belt somewhere, rather than on Titan, and it would have been smaller and less important. Never forget! The bounty from what we found on those HX remnants was so rich that it changed our world!

The story I want to talk to you today about is this last crisis we faced. The one this dinner is celebrating the end of. What I think will be called in history books either the Moratorium Crisis or The Siege of Titan.

The HX relics -- The Honeycomb Comet and the two Hulks -- have fascinated mankind since their discovery. Not only have they added enormously to our understanding of xenobiology, the treasures brought back have improved our technology and how we live. It's as if Indiana Jones in his third movie not only found the Holy Grail, he brought it out, and it was duplicateable, and now every hospital had one. That's the kind of world-changing difference we are talking about with the HX relics.

But, these relics are also dangerous. They are dangerous because they are powerful. Suppose that Indiana Jones' Holy Grail could cause cancer as well as heal? It would still be valuable, but you would have to be careful how you used it. This is what we humans face every day with our real HX relics: they are valuable, they can help humanity a lot, but because they are powerful, they can also hurt humanity a lot if they are misused.

Some in our Solar System community have argued that using HX relics is too dangerous. Some of these people say, "We should declare the HX fragments as Solar System Parks: places where people can look, but not touch, and certainly not exploit!" Others have argued that using what we learn from the HX fragments "pollutes" humankind technology, and that we should wait to reap those technology benefits until we humans have discovered the technology for ourselves. Still others have argued that the relics are not as long dead as we think, and the owners are going to come back and be really piss... angry, when they find that we were messing with their stuff.

All of these arguments are weak in my opinion. The one strong argument for going slow on HX technology is that HX technology is so good, so valuable, that using it will disrupt human communities, much as using industrial technology ripped up human communities in the 1700's through 2000's. That's a strong argument... but most of us sitting here would agree that humanity is better off for having taken the risk of industrializing, and I feel the same way about HX technologies: there will be a lot of pain and a lot of social cost as we adopt HX technologies, but in the end our world will be a much better place.

Ten years ago this difference in philosophy about how to exploit the HX remains came to a head.

The most widely valuable early find from the HX fragments was fragment walls that were catalysts for various reactions. Apparently parts of the HX body were the "livers" for the HX, and deeply involved in chemical processing. These walls were easy to identify because they were colorful, not the bone-white of structural walls. So one of the earliest ways of exploiting the fragments was to take a jack hammer to the colorful walls and bring big pieces of them back, to be tested at Titan Colony. So... Titan Colony needed a catalyst testing field. At first it was just that: we had those with colorful rock unload their canisters and move them to a flattened out area two kilometers east of the landing field -- that was on the opposite side of the space field from habitation.

The Catalyst 404 Accident

The problem came as the facility grew. It turned out there were not dozens or hundreds, but thousands or tens of thousands of kinds of HX catalysts. This testing was supposed to be taking place in a lonely, isolated place, but the testing area was sprouting new buildings like a mushroom farm and in six months it was a crowded place with a lot of people. Without anyone noticing it, the testing area became an accident waiting to happen, and it did. Someone opened a canister full of what later came to be known as Catalyst 404, and ten people and ten buildings were violently recycled into Titan's atmosphere -- as in... there was a huge explosion. Five years later Catalyst 404 became the backbone of methane-to-hydrogen conversion in Earth's petrochemical industry. Up until Catalyst 404 was used widely, the "hydrogen economy" on Earth grew only where it was subsidized, it could not compete economically with liquid petroleum energy. Catalyst 404 allowed the hydrogen economy on Earth to become economic for the first time, and five years later it finally became Earth's dominant energy platform. So, Catalyst 404 was going to become hugely valuable, and, in spite of the damage the 404 Accident caused, the risk taken in discovering it paid of handsomely for humanity. But, in the short term, that accident became a touchstone for all sorts of anti-HX worries.

The response on Titan Colony to the 404 Accident (as it came to be called) was to morn the dead for about a week, and change The Preliminary to call for the immediate start of construction on a much larger, much more decentralized, much further from town, catalyst testing field, and that was it -- end of response. We on Titan had learned from our mistake, and it was time to move on. There was still a lot to do here.

But on Earth, the response was just beginning. Earth Anti-HX bloggers were expecting a response similar to President Reagan's when The Challenger blew up in the 1990's. They were expecting Titan's government to shut the catalyst testing program down, do some kind of "full investigation", and then reopen the facility years later in accordance with the full investigation recommendations.

Herbert Tipton, the governor, gave me the political hot potato of responding to the Earth blogger community that was calling for more response to the accident.

My response to the bloggers was, "Sorry folks. Shit happens, and there's a lot to do here. We don't have time for the theatrics you are calling for."

...In retrospect, it was an appropriate response for someone who was steeped in the Titan culture of that day. I hadn't been thinking "Earth-centric" when I wrote it. Those of us on Titan knew that half the people who worked at that facility would become billionaires within five years, and the other half would become multimillionaires. The deaths were sad, and we would take steps to prevent the accident from happening again, but those who died did not die for nothing, they were reaching for something that was very valuable and very real.

I was as surprised as anyone on Titan when my response launched a firestorm of indignation on Earth. The media picked it up from the bloggers, and there were soon reports all over Earth news outlets about Titan Colony government's insensitivity to people's lives. Ack!!

The biggest problem with the bad publicity is that it would affect our funding. Titan Colony was adding a lot of value to the Solar System through HX finds, but the Solar System was also pouring trillions into Titan Colony to allow it to live and grow fast. If that money coming to Titan slowed, Titan Colony's growth slowed.

My response to the Earth media outrage was to "give in." I formed a blue-ribbon committee to "fully investigate" the accident. In our news feeds we talked a lot about the committee and its investigating powers. We didn't talk at all about the fact that we made no change in our plans to relocate and expand the testing area.

The Sularigen/Serenity Scandal

This was a hard time for Titan-Earth relations. Six weeks after the Catalyst 404 Accident, the Sularigen/Serenity Scandal broke. One of the catalysts we found -- Catalyst 880 -- catalyzed the final stage of the anti-viral drug Sularigen. In two years Sularigen was to become the main ingredient in 80% of the cold tablet medicine sold on Earth -- it was another "elephant" that Titan was handing Earth. When we tested it on Titan, we tested it in Titan Standard Conditions (TSC) as opposed to Earth Standard Conditions (now called ESC, used to be called STP for Standard Temperature Pressure). The biggest difference between the two is Titan ambient air pressure is three atmospheres and the extra is all nitrogen. For almost every room temperature chemical reaction, nitrogen is an inert component -- it makes no change in the reaction. On Titan, under TSC conditions, we found that Catalyst 880 made Sularigen. What we did not notice, and the people on Earth did not notice either for six months, was that under ESC conditions, Catalyst 880 also made the now famous recreational drug Serenity.

The Earth Drug Agency (EDA) was embarrassed by Serenity. At the time Catalyst 880 was introduced, there was a power play going on on Earth between the EDA and the traditional large drug suppliers. As one of the moves in that struggle, the director of the EDA made Sularigen the first drug in his Democracy for Drugs campaign, something he had devised to break the power of the established drug companies. So for the first six months after it was introduced to Earth, virtually any drug maker that applied for Catalyst 880 got some. Then Serenity came into the picture, and the drug agency found itself in the position of being a major drug paraphernalia supplier for a new designer drug. Ouch!

To make life even stranger on Earth, it looked as if Serenity was enjoyed most by Cannabis users, and it was cheaper, so it was cutting into the Cannabis market, and causing a recession in the large, but still illegal, cannabis industry -- thousands of pot growing and processing people were losing jobs because of Serenity. In an unholy alliance, the cannabis makers strongly backed the EDA push to eradicate Serenity. So, the Earth agency reversed its position on Catalyst 880 and put it on a highly restricted list instead of the easy to get list, even though the market for Sularigen-based cold tablets was now huge as well, and there were riots as Sularigen supply was cut down by the new regulations. The EDA blamed its embarrassment on Titan. It said, "Titan had not been vigilant enough in its catalyst testing." and they recommended sending Earth agents to oversee the catalyst testing. The Titan Colony response was, "You're welcome to send someone to watch. You're not welcome to send someone to slow down our research processes. We have a huge backlog as it is."

The EDA response was, "We don't need another Serenity. It is costing us billions to try and control its spread." and when the politicians got involved an additional twist was added to the message, "Should those billions come from the Titan Colony budget?"

That wasn't the end of the problem. The EDA had created a huge market for Catalyst 880 -- both Sularigen and Serenity were selling well and in demand, so when the EDA stopped supplying, the drug makers looked for another source. The drug makers found that "Titan smugglers" were willing to take the EDA's place, and that created a boom market for being a Titan smuggler -- for a while it seemed like every ship that left Titan, and every passenger on a ship that left Titan was deluged with requests from Titan smuggler wannabe's to, "take a package home to my mother, will you?"

I tried to help fix the problem -- I could see that a thriving smuggler industry would not help Titan Colony at all! -- but with the EDA and the anti-drug community on Earth being so obstinate about eradicating Serenity by cutting off the supply, there was little I could do. Oh, and to add fuel to the social fires, Serenity remained legal on Titan. Serenity was a pill, so everywhere on Titan that it was used in place of cannabis, it reduced fire hazard and air pollution problems.

The Sularigen/Serenity Incident made social conservatives on Earth and Titan Colony unhappy. As they saw it, the social changes caused by HX technology spreading to Earth communities were a mix of really good and really bad, and there was too much bad in the mix.

So in sum, before the siege started, Titan was a fascinating wonder for Earth. It was booming in population, inhabited by mostly get-rich-quick people who actually did get rich, and it sent many wonders to Earth. But the thinking on Titan was strange by Earth standards: these Titan people tolerated danger levels that were much higher than those tolerated on Earth, and those that survived did very well economically. For Earth people, Titan was a mysterious place: some worshipped it; some demonized it, and Titan stories were a popular media genre. For most Titan people, Earth was "home", even if a person lived on Titan and had kids here, you planned on sending your kids "home" to Earth for their higher education. Likewise, advanced health care, retirement and advanced finance were all Earth-lead activities.

The Sularigen/Serenity Incident set one other bad precedent: whenever there was trouble caused by adapting to a new technology, a good way for Earth bunglers to duck their failings was to "fingerpoint" at Titan and say their problems were Titan's fault. Sularigen/Serenity set the stage for the Siege of Titan.

The Moratorium Crisis (the Seige of Titan)

The Siege itself began after several elections on Earth brought a wave of conservative politicians into power. Mind you, I have nothing in particular against conservative politicians, some of my best friends are conservative politicians. But this wave was of Diety-fearin', Religious Text-thumpin', "think locally, act globally" politicians who were making hay off the communities' concerns about the social disorder all this new HX technology was causing. They called themselves the Earth First party, and they called for, and shortly passed, a moratorium on HX technology releases on Earth.

A what!!! A moratorium! Telling Titan Colony it couldn't distribute HX technology was like telling a steel company it couldn't sell steel. It was our lifeblood, the key to all our growth! Without a market for HX technology, Titan Colony might as well go back to being a 200 person backwater lab! IT WAS JUST INSANE!!

Insane, but it happened nonetheless. So we on Titan had to adapt to it.

The bad news for Titan Colony was the Moratorium Crisis did cause a deep recession. Unemployment had been about 1 percent before the moratorium -- we don't know for sure what it was because no one had bothered to track the statistic. Before the siege, when you came to Titan Colony, there was always something to be done. Now, for the first time, there were idle hands in Titan Colony. It was something Titan Colony had to adapt to, and it was hard. Before the crisis everyone on Titan was a winner, after the crisis started Titan had losers, too. There were empty warehouses and offices for the first time, and for the first time there were criminals who used those empty facilities for nefarious deeds. There were beggars and minority rights whiners who clogged the main passageways. Titan Colony now needed a police force. We did get caught up on a lot of social stuff during that recession, this was when The Preliminary was finally scrapped in favor of a finished Master Plan, and we became a lot more self-sufficient socially. We planned for schools, hospitals, and a lot of other stuff we had previously counted on Earth for. There was some benefit in becoming more self-sufficient, but overall, building for self-sufficiency was very expensive, and these were very hard times for the Titan Colony community.

The good news was that Titan Colony solved this crisis by changing its thinking from Earth-centric to Solar System-centric. Titan Colony weathered the Moratorium Crisis by reaching out to the other markets of the Solar System: Mars, The Belt, the other colonies. Like Titan Colony, these other places had grown mightily as HX technology spread. Unlike Earth, they had no doubts about how much HX technology had made their lives better, so they were dead-set against shutting the flow down. Mars in particular was a life-saver. They could see that Earth First politicians were off in Cloud Cuckooland with this moratorium idea, and they stepped in to become Titan Colony's major market in Earth's place. Mars was a big place in those days compared to Titan Colony, about ten million people, so they could provide enough market for Titan Colony to survive, and, as the Moratorium Crisis lengthened, they took on the role of middleman between Titan Colony and Earth, so they prospered, too.

It took three years, but finally many people on Earth noticed that their quality of life was slipping behind that of the colonies. Those who lived in Greenland chafed first and complained hardest because many there were retirees from the colonies -- they saw the difference first hand, and they were rich enough that when they complained, other people listened.

Ending the Seige

The Siege of Titan ended slowly. The main weapon in ending the Siege turned out to be Titan stories -- that still popular entertainment genre. As Earth people watched Titan people leading better and better lives because of HX technology, the Earth First politicians lost their thunder. As they lost power, it became possible to squeeze loopholes into The Moratorium.

This year, part of what we are celebrating with the TC3 project, is that Earth people and companies can now directly finance Titan projects again, and that means The Moratorium has been pretty well sidestepped, and Titan Colony is back to full-speed growth.

We are not "back to the good old days", a lot has changed. Titan Colony has not stopped growing, and Earth still has a go slow policy about taking HX technology. Titan Colony is now is more independent of Earth. It has multiple markets now, and its people no longer think of Earth as the center of the universe. Titan Colony is now big enough that it manufactures as well as researches. It is big enough that it is now first exploiter of some HX technologies -- it makes stuff with HX technology and sends the finished product to Earth, Mars and other Solar System markets. Sidestepping the moratorium means that Titan Colony and Earth can now deal more directly again, and both will benefit from the flow.

Personally, I'm real happy to see this reconciliation happen. Titan needs Earth and Earth needs Titan. There's a big Milky Way galaxy out there, waiting for us to explore and exploit it. That exploration and exploitation will happen much, much faster if the Solar System is all working toward the same goal, not bickering and in-fighting. That's the "Master Plan" I see humanity working towards now: getting to Alpha Centuri and beyond. We've come a long way from a 200 person scientific outpost on Titan, but there's still a lot to do before mankind becomes a player in the stars.

-- The End --