Nous Voila is the third planet circling Beta Comae Berenices, the home of a French colony founded 80 years ago in 2220.
- Name: Nous Voila
- Distance from Primary: 1.48 au
- Size: 15,000 km
- Core Type: Rocky
- World Type: Glacier
- Gravity: 1.05
- Escape Velocity: 11.8 km/s
- Atmospheric Pressure: 1.02 ATM
- Average Temperature: 10 deg C
- Water Presence: 36%
- Atmospheric Composition: N2 84%, O2 15%, Trace 1%
- Satellites: None
- Nous Voila (France); Date Established: 2220; Population: 12,000,000; Capital: Noveau Amman; Bases: Orbital Terminal, Orbital Defenses, Solar Power Satellite, Catapult, Scramjets, Farming
Nous Voila’s climate was not always as temperate as it is today. When explorers first discovered it, it had an adequate atmosphere, but was cold, with ice caps covering most of the planet’s surface and holding most of the available water. Native life was adapted to this temperature, with hardy plants and a few small sea creatures, but no land animals.
Scientists used a microbial organism, developed through genetic research, in an effort to make the planet inhabitable by man. The microorganism was let loose on the planet’s surface, where over a period of 12 years it spread over the ice caps. The dark color of the tiny creatures changed Nous Voila’s albedo, warming the planet and melting most of the ice caps and glaciers except at the poles. Once the change was in effect, a second biological agent was released to kill the microorganism. The world was quarantined for another six years to prevent the undesired contamination of other worlds before the microorganisms were totally destroyed. Man’s ingenuity had changed a frozen, barren world into a
garden ready for planting, and later French colonists worked zealously at making their new home a true paradise. The technique of using the microorganisms to warm a world’s surface temperature has since been used at two or three other worlds, principally to free up the available water, although the warming of the atmosphere is usually a beneficial side effect.
Interestingly enough, once the ice was melted from the surface of Nous Voila, fossil evidence was discovered that showed that the world had had much more abundant life before its latest ice age. French archaeologists found bones of extinct species, some twice as large as the Earth elephant.
One species in particular attracted considerable interest, and debate still rages today over its true import. Was there intelligent life on Nous Voila before humans arrived? Some archaeologists believe so. Much of the evidence was destroyed by ice and snow, so artifacts are hard to come by, but some sites seem to yield signs that a mammalian quadruped gathered into communities on the largest continent in the northern hemisphere and settled down to civilized life on a small scale. It is difficult enough to judge whether a species is intelligent when the species is present before the researcher studying it, but when the species has been extinct for thousands of years, the question may never be answered conclusively. Geneticists have collected vast samples from the life present on Nous Voila, and have attempted to extract as much genetic material as possible from the fossil evidence, but have had no luck in cloning any of the extinct creatures.
Immediately following the lifting of quarantine by French officials in 2220, the newly adapted planet of Nous Voila was opened for independent colonization. Since the government was already supervising colonization efforts on a number of other worlds, it was agreed that Nous Voila would best be settled slowly by independent contractors and families. The planet’s new citizens would enjoy French citizenship and protection, of course, but would be basically on their own to make the colony a success.
The first settlers were mainly families from areas in French Africa like Camaroon and Senegal, which were already a pleasant mixture of races and cultures. They occupied a river valley region which they named Nouveau Amman, where a municipal government was established to provide for steady supplies of food and regulation of a simple structure of laws. By the 2220s France had become one of the most over-bureaucratized societies ever seen, and an unfettered colonization program on Nous Voila naturally drew individuals anxious to leave that legacy behind.
The first generation of colonists were characterized by cooperative families and hard work, putting large areas of land to the plow and establishing an effective hydroelectric network for a colony which at the time stretched over about two hundred square kilometers. Because of the government’s hands-off policy, there were no “free rides” to Nous Voila, and this fact did much to filter out all but the highest quality colonists for Nouveau Amman. For a colony world, the climate and conditions on Nous Voila have always been extremely good, and in its early days the colony at Nouveau Amman prided itself on the theory that anyone who visited them would probably relocate to live among them.
By the second generation, the pressures of an increasing population began to take their toll on the “utopian” society at Nouveau Amman. A greater diversity of laws became necessary, as did wider regulation of many activities, most importantly interface transportation. Also, more distant areas on the planet were being colonized, and the government had to expand its revenue base substantially to provide transportation routes between them.
Today, Nous Voila is an extremely pleasant colony world, still largely independent of direct control by the French Empire. Its 12 million inhabitants lead comfortable lives on this garden world, engaged mostly in agricultural pursuits. Nous Voila’s economy is based on these pursuits, with agricultural goods making up more than 80 percent of the colony’s exports. The colony exchanges these goods for manufactured products, as Nous Voila has very little local manufacturing capability. Nous Voila uses an orbital catapult or slingshot as its primary system for boosting goods into orbit Scramjets are used as supplemental transportation for passenger service and shipment of particularly fragile goods.
The settlements on Nous Voila are not typical of those on other agricultural worlds. Local government operate maglev and airfilm lines connecting hundreds of tiny communities, called villages locally, where specialized activity has become the economic reality. One village might be known for its exotic cheese manufacture, and another for its fine breads or wines. The readily available transportation makes this specialization possible and gives every village a sense of pride in itself and its inclusion in the world community. Competitions for greatest achievements in agricultural produce are held on a village level, winners gaining notoriety on a planetary scale. Certain villages are renowned through all of explored space. For example, the beers of Shezbourg are highly prized on Earth.
A typical village is home to between 500 and 5000 people, many of whom live in the nearby countryside. Central power distribution is usually controlled from the village itself, either from a ground station (wind or solar facility), or possibly from a single nuclear power plant. The equipment for the village’s specialized operations is usually owned by a village cooperative used and owned by everyone involved. In some cases, where operations are similar, multiple villages are known to jointly own and operate equipment that they might not individually be able to afford.
Agricultural surplus which cannot be consumed locally is exported as cash crops. Commodities not locally produced are then purchased on the open market for consumption. However, since most off-world interests have neither the time nor the desire to deal with villages individually, export cooperatives have been established to present a united front of several communities and their products. These cooperatives deal only with the exporting and importing of produce under the direction of their individual village backers, and are as close as Nous Voila has come to sectioning off into nations.