Provincia do Brasil
By Ben Levy
Acre is a sculpted land. The forces of nature on Tirane, wind, water, fire, and earth, driven by Tirane's double-cycled climate, have shown their creativity and power here more than anywhere else. Sera do Prado has Provincia do Brasils highest mountains, but only in Acre do they reach such extremes of form. Terrain here has all the twists and shapes of the badlands and canyon lands of the North American west. If the extraordinary landforms werent enough, the mountains of Acre hide lush, fertile valleys; small, green pocket gardens shielded from the vagaries of Tiranean weather by tall mountain walls and high altitudes. Many of these are steep sided with narrow canyons or gorges along their bottoms. The smallest are deep gullies less than a meter across, still forming. The largest are kilometers wide over a hundred long. Some are broad enough to provide good locations for agriculture. The high mountains and green valleys that dominate the eastern half of the state give way to lower but deeply eroded lines of hills in the west, paralleling the coast. Seaward the vegetation is Mediterranean in style, shorty, twisted, and scattered point producers dominating over stiff and irregular patches of ground covering plants. Inland, the terrain becomes flatter towards the southwest corner, though not completely, and the area producers become taller and more prevalent, forming a thick and hilly prairie, known for outcrops of bare, reddish, bedrock, where the Estado borders Nova Ostia and western Campobelo. There are a few patches of genuine forest along the northern coast, where the foothills meet the sea in a maze of rocky coves and inlets. Large areas of the Estado are inapproachable by vehicle ,and can be reached only on foot, often involving rock climbing. As a result, much of Acre is still poorly explored. There are plenty of places left here where one can be the first to explore on foot.
The agreement between the Vatican and Brazil of 2245 granted a large piece of Acres land (then part of the area called Campo-Oeste Unidade) to the Roman Catholic Church, reserving some key areas and rights-of-way to the government, and preserving existing properties as privately owned land. Simultaneously, the Unidade was divided into the Unidades of Dominicada and Campobelo. Eleven years after the end of the third Rio Plata war, Dominicada was renamed Acre, and granted a belated Estado status, to immortalize the name of the Estado on Earth lost to the Incan Republic. This was also a gesture of reconciliation to the Incans. The idea, strange as it may seem, was that if Brazil still had an Estado named Acre, there would be less pressure to recover the Amazon headwater territory now in Incan hands. No one ever said everything ever dreamed up in Brasilia was logical. With its strong Church influence, Acre is often regarded as a theocratic state, but under Brazils constitution this cannot exist, and Acre, like every other Estado, functions as a democratic republic. However, it cannot be denied that the Roman Catholic Church has an enormous amount of control, well beyond its being the primary land holder and employer. The Roman Catholic political slate is adopted, almost always without serious opposition, at every election.
Its 756,250 square kilometers is about twice the area of pre-Twilight Japan, and it is home to 4,500,000 people, a quarter of whom live in the city of Basilicade. The remainder live scattered amongst small towns, along the northern coast, on the western prairie, and in the mountain valleys. The weather, except in certain mountain areas where the topography funnels moisture, is temperate, dry, and very variable. The mountain "pocket gardens" cover about 1 percent of the Estado's area. They are humid, but can be seasonal, stable or changeable, depending on local topology. The most spectacular, of course, are the ones that are continuously humid, These tend to be the most deep and narrow.
Basilicade, the capitol city of Acre was founded in 2245, with a massive initial construction effort subsidized by the Roman Catholic Church. Local industry was not yet up to supplying all the needs of a major construction project so far from the central area of the Brazilian colony with all its needs at reasonable costs, so more primitive and "expedient:" methods were used throughout the city, such as local stone being used wherever possible. Without high performance alloys, and indeed very little structural metal at all, the city was built lacking the graceful modern forms of other urban developments. The first buildings were blocky, heavy affairs, huge and imposing. This became the Basilicade style, and was generally followed even where more modern forms were feasible. Most of the buildings today are very large stone edifices with a strong touch of ancient Gothic style thrown in. The more modern buildings, such as the Lexos office park, and the Hotel Tarsus, are found towards the city's fringes.
This district is entirely the property of the Roman Catholic Church, and is their headquarters on Tirane. The main plaza of this district, of course, is dominated by the Basilica do Tirane, an enormous structure built at great expense, designed to "one-up" the Novo Catolico Basilica in Uruguay. The stone structure is Tiranes largest religious structure, although there is a Mosque in the French colony that disputes the title, the dispute being unsettled as to the differing opinions on which ancillary structures can be included in the measurement of the building itself. The dispute is left to amateurs and junior scholars to debate. The professional clergy has better things to do with its time. Commercial dealings of all kinds are prohibited in this District, but just outside it, merchants cluster and compete for visitors cash. The District is secured by the ornately uniformed Tirane Detachment of the Swiss Guard, which now operates as a special division of the Ecclesiastical Security Service. The District is home to a small number of private residences, usually townhouses or apartments leased from the church by individuals employed by the church
The original plans called for this to be the principal commercial and functional district of the city, with stores and offices clustered around a series of beautiful old fashioned plazas with traditional stone fountains in the centers. The urban planning here was supposed to be a tribute to the great plazas of Italy. Not everything went as planned. Most of the needed offices located themselves in Distrito Metroa while waiting for Cerqueira Santo to be built, and few found the inclination or budget to move later on. The government, determined to make Cerqueira Santo a cultural center at least, located the University of Acre here, with the Jesuit University ,and the College for the Practical Arts soon following. Aside from its educational facilities, Cerqueira Santo has become largely a working class district. The stores are here, but they are locally owned small time independent shops, not the high end merchandisers the developers hoped to attract. The architecture is impressive, and draws its share of tourists, but in truth there is impressive architecture to be found throughout Basilicade, especially in Vaticano. By the time a visitor arrives here, he or she has already seen one ornate old fashioned plaza too many. The area is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, though, as residents looking for low cost housing realize the appeal of the designs of this District. With a little active searching, one can acquire a classical Italian styled townhouse, complete with courtyard garden, at a low price. Artists and students have moved into many of the apartments here, and inexpensive taverns have established themselves around some of the plazas. What little technology based industry Basilicade has is in this district, on the northeast side, furthest from the city center.
Basilicades middle and upper class district was built after the city began to run out of close, convenient level building area. Consolacao is drapes down the slopes on the southwest side of the city like a series of landscaped terraces. Too steep for an airfilm track, the district has its own transit system that connects it with the city hub in Metroa. Electric trams climb the slope on special rack and pinion style tracks. Its nowhere near the speed of more conventional transit systems, but the route is direct, and its a lot faster and less taxing on the nerves than driving along the torturous mountain streets of the district. At the top of the first hill crest to the southwest of Metroa is the wealthiest neighborhood in Consolacao, and of Basilicade as well. This row of ornate, massive homes crowns a ridgeline like crenellation on a medieval parapet. Lower down on the slope the homes are more middle class. Even at the base of the slope, however, gardening seems a public obsession. The homes in this district are detached, and most houses are surrounded by greenery. Even the shops- limited to local neighborhood shops here, as the major retail areas are in Metroa, display the signs of skilled gardeners hands. Consolacao has one major park, a long green strip up through the center of the district, following a stream that cascades down in gentle, misty waterfalls at three points. The park is naturally named Parque de Cascatas, Waterfall Park, and it is considered the most beautiful urban park in all of Provincia do Brasil, although it is a strenuous hike to walk the full length of it.
Just east of Vaticano is the Distrito Metroa. This is the hub of everything worldly about Basilicade, and the reminder that clerical collars alone are not enough to make a city run, no matter how lofty the principals. Of course, every Sunday, the streets of Metroa area almost deserted. And Metroa doesnt look like most of the other urban cores of Provincia do Brasil. For one thing, there are no great skyscrapers, commercial or otherwise. The building officials of Basilicade take a dim view of anything rising over the bell towers of the cathedrals. From the streets of Metroa, the western sky is dominated by the huge Basilica do Tirane, with the Cathedral of Saint Celestine to the north, and the smaller Cathedral of Our Lady of Cabralia just south of it. None of the structures in Metroa rise over eight stories. The district has a classic, regal look. Streets are wide and straight, radiating out from the vast public plazas that border Vaticano, and surrounded by buildings with architectures inspired by the broad and well to do residential boulevards of Paris and New York City. In the district of Vaticano, the retention of ancient architectural styles seems a normal thing. Who, after all, would expect anything else from a 22 century old institution? But in Metroa, it is astounding. Visitors are astounded by the idea of people living and working in buildings not only laboriously constructed with great blocks of stone and terra cotta, but at the ornate detail work given to these buildings, much of it carved by hand. The streets and buildings are kept clean and no urban core in Brazil of similar size has a crime rate as low.
Despite its grace, Metroa isnt the most prosperous of central city districts. With such a focus in the city on the Roman Catholic Church, the city seems unable to offer anything else. Metroa has three art galleries and a museum of anthropology, but all seem dry and pale compared to similar facilities in foreign cities. There re holo-theaters here, and an opera house as in any of Brazils major citys, but if the rest of Brazil must choose its entertainment stock from a short list, the list available to the people of Basilicade is even more heavily scrutinized. The stores are clean and well stocked, but the values arent too great. People in Basilicade pay higher prices than people in other parts of Provincia do Brasil for similar goods. The commercial enterprises that form the economic backbone of other urban areas seems to be lacking here. Bastion of the Church is an impressive role, and it draws the faithful and the tourists, and there certainly are those industries sustained by the church, but it fails in the task of energizing the city. Metroa therefore gives an impression of being old beyond its years. It wears the face of an old city, and has adopted the ways of an elegant, and pretentious although decidedly middle class dowager.
The civilian government of Acre is situated in the Metroa District of Basilicade, and has comparatively little to do. The Partido Alianca is the strongest secular force in Acre politics, and even their candidates, if they expect to win an election, are limited to the slate "suggested" by the church. In Acre, tithes (not only to the Roman Catholic Church but to any accepted religious agency, actually) may be deducted from taxes due to the state, rather than gross income, a feature that nets the Church a goodly sum of Cruzeiros every year but leaves the Estado government perennially under funded. Acres state police force is a small unit of 1,800 officers. Most of the Estados income goes to the support of the schools- and fortunately for Acre the church provides a lot of cheap or free private schooling- and maintenance of the road net, which is a major problem for the state.
Acres Department of Transportation consumes the second largest slice of the budget pie, but with a small population scattered across some of Calabrias (the island-continent that forms the bulk of Provincia do Brasil) roughest terrain, its usually not enough. This agency maintains the superestrada that links Basilicade with the Superestrada do Sur, and operates the airfilm trains that run along it. They also operate the airfilm trains that serve as the urban transportation system in Basilicade itself.
The Department of the Economy has the unenviable task of seeing to the development of the Estado. The challenge they face is rooted in the fact that without the influence of the Church, Acre would likely as not have never existed as an Estado. Most likely, as in the case of Mata Centaura, the region would have been an outback, still maintained as a federally controlled Unidade. The resources here are usable, but just about everything the state produces can be found elsewhere. Tourism is the fastest growing source of income in Acre, and the Department of the Economy has seen this trend and has begun to support it.
The Department of Health has almost fully privatized its operations. Naturally, the only real source of private medicine in the Estado are the Church affiliated hospitals, but these are very good, ,and Basilicade has gained a reputation for better medical care than the surrounding Estados. Its not hard to see why. The Vatican has a large number of elderly officials, clerics, and dignitaries here, and they have no wish to see them dying and sooner than their counterparts on Earth. God may call all home in their time, but even the most devout hope that He experiences difficulties with the communications net when the time to place that call comes. The church affiliated hospitals turn no one away, but their rates tend to be high. Fortunately, they have an excellent insurance plan, and membership in a church is not a pre-requisite.
A small and vocal minority complains about the heavy hand of the Roman Catholic Church in the state, but they have limited support and no real way to advance their agenda, other than through the aid of Acres Department of Cultural Affairs. By national law, there is no official religion in Brazil, despite the status enjoyed by the Catholics. Local governments are required to support other spiritual aspirations of the people if . The above mentioned vocal minority never seems to be short of dedicated (usually overly dedicated) activists to present other spiritual aspirations, so the Department of Cultural Affairs continually finds itself promoting the activities of a half a dozen other points of view, including sponsoring the annual Raamtha Mind Communications Transcendence Cycle and the Conference of the Brazilian Atheist Forum.
The Roman Catholic Churchs planetary headquarters is in the Distrito Vaticano. In fact, the entire district is owned by the church, and much of it is occupied with church buildings. Many of the Roman Catholic Church organizational structures have some representation here, and two of the Churches Councils are actually located here rather than on Earth. These are the Special Wing of the Ecclesiastical Security Service and the Council on Xenotheological Studies.
The Roman Catholic Hierarchy divides Provincia do Brasil into 134 Dioceses and 29 Arch Dioceses. The former are directed by Bishops, the latter by Arch Bishops. Elsewhere in Tirane- where the Church is somewhat less important but still makes every effort to present itself as the spiritual bulwark of humanity- there are 210 Dioceses and 23 Arch Dioceses, including 12 Arch Dioceses and in 114 Dioceses in Nouvelle Provence, (the second largest population of Roman Catholics on Tirane) and one Arch Diocese in Tirane Orbital space. Tirane is not far enough from Earth to warrant independence in the appointment of Bishops and Archbishops, and this matter is handled by the Pope on Earth. However, it is recognized that the Holy Father, when considering appointments on Tirane, defers almost always to the opinion of the Tiranean Congregation of Cardinals.
The designation Cardinal does not signify responsibility for a specific geographic region, nor does it confer a position of rank. In fact, Priests, Bishops, and certain non-ordained persons (generally key dignitaries within the church structure) may be appointed Cardinals by the Pope. The title of Cardinal identifies the bearer as one elevated to a special position of confidence by the pope, called upon to participate in the most important of papal decisions, generally by discussing, debating, and offering advice to the pope. Of course, on the occasion of the death of a pope, it is still up to the Cardinals to select the replacement. There is no fixed number of Cardinal, each pope may appoint as many as he thinks necessary. On Tirane, traditions are almost two recent in origin to be considered, in the light of Church history, to be "established", but several patterns have emerged. There are currently 14 Cardinals on Tirane. Of these, eight live in Provincia do Brasil, and six of these within Basilicade, where they oversee the workings of the Church. Of the remaining six, two live in the French colony, and one each in Tirania, Freihaven, Wellon, and Tundukubwa. This is not a firm organization. Until the passing of Terrance Cardinal Raschdorf in New Canberra, for example, that colony had a Cardinal, and until the appointment of Alexander Cardinal Guyot, the French colony had only one.
These 14 Cardinals form a special sub element of Cardinals, having responsibility for the affairs of the church on Tirane, and making all recommendations to the pope for decisions regarding Tirane. When necessary, they act as "Legati a Lateri", special diplomatic envoys of the Pope, to leaders throughout Tirane. Their recommendations for appointments of Bishops and Archbishops are generally followed completely. In Basilicade, one Cardinal oversees the Tiranean Sacred Congregation for Public affairs of the Church, one oversees the Tiranean Secretariat, one oversees the monastic orders, one oversees the Seminary School of Cabralia, one oversees the Ecclesiastical Security Service, and one is the Head of the Tiranean Curia, a fairly redundant administrative position allowing him (currently Marcos Cardinal Felacini) to act as "Cardinal at large", switching his attentions between various subjects as needs require.
The discovery and early settlement of Tirane prompted a vigorous response from the church. The extraordinarily pleasant environment of Tirane, in some ways even more favorable to mankind than Terra, considering that Earths land masses are taken up, in large part, by three biomes considered the least hospitable to man. These are, the desert, the tundra, and the polar cap. Tirane appears to have considerably less, proportionately, of the first two, and somewhat less of the latter. This led some people to assume that Tirane was "better" for mankind than Earth, and the theological repercussions of that idea were staggering. At earlier times in its history, it might have been slow to embrace change, but, the Roman Catholic Church immediately rose tot he challenge of Tiranean colonization. Many young priests along with nuns, monks, and a supportive laity, saw the establishment of their religion on Tirane as a holy mission, and some considered Tirane itself a holy place, a sort of gift from God to mankind, possibly as a reward for surviving the very worst of what mankind could do to itself. One of the prevailing attitudes toward Tirane can be seen in the words of an American priest who felt called to uproot himself, even before America decided upon a colony, and make the journey to Tirane:
"It amazes me that before the discovery of Tirane, it was widely speculated by sophisticated, educated people that the discovery of life on other worlds might somehow present difficulties for people of faith. Yet, the discovery of Tirane was one great moments in human spiritual history. Here is this place, of all the worlds we have found, best suited to us, other than our own Earth. Every variable, every feature is pleasant for us. Right next door, waiting for human beings. And this was a chance occurrence? A lucky convergence of natural law? The odds of Tirane being what it is, where it is, is so remote that it defies any explanation that does not invoke the benevolence of a divine creator is obviously insufficient. This planet is the very proof theologians have sought all along of Intelligent Design. "
In the first forty or fifty years, the church established itself on Tirane, and dug its institutions in wherever funds and agreeable governments would allow, but soon growth began to falter. Colonies had been planned and developed by nations, populations shifted at the advice of generals, politicians, scientists, and inevitably, bankers. For all their effort, for decades after colonization began, the church was only an accessory to be added to touch up a new settlement, like a park. Things changed later on, when the various social ills thought left back on Earth began to crop up again on Tirane. Abuses of power, neglect of the poor, and the staunch refusal of mankind to conform to the expectations of planners led things to go awry. War appeared on Tirane, and so did all the usual scourges. The church, were it could, stepped in to provide what it could, schools, hospitals, aid and assistance for people in need, and social and spiritual foci for people who found something lacking from the great plans of the various Ministries of colonization. In the first half of the 23rd century, the church rebounded. When the church on Tirane grew so large that direct management of its affairs from Earth grew unwieldy, Basilicade became the center of its operations on Tirane.
Roman Catholic Church power and influence is immense. Only in Acre do they field their own political candidates, but elsewhere, a nod or a frown from an Arch Bishop can make or break a political campaign. They have the right to try their own clergy for a wide variety of offenses, and the right to try regular citizens for offenses committed on Church property, which includes much of Acre. They operate almost all of the schools and hospitals of Acre, and many schools and hospitals throughout Provincia do Brasil. Even after death, the average citizen of Provincia do Brasil finds himself in the care of the Church, as they run operate most of the cemeteries.
Five Holy Order have their planetary headquarters in Basilicade, under the auspices of the Church. Each is still a divided, as per classic Catholic design, into a dominant male led order and a subservient female order of Nuns.
The Jesuits, most vocal of he orders, have historically antagonized both clergy and politicians, despite their allegiance to the pope. (this is mostly the result of their dedication to education and the uplifting of more primitive people, against the private wishes of local powers) . In Provincia do Brasil they again found themselves at odd with the secular government, due to their unceasing pressure for improvements to education and better controls on public expenditures. Even the church hierarchy finds them too noisy for their own good, but Jesuit dedication (it is one of the most difficult orders to join, and requires intense commitment to education in spiritual as well as classical subjects, as well as a strong motivation for self improvement.) makes them an asset too valuable to dismiss, and the church supports Jesuit educational activities throughout Tirane.
The Dominicans and Franciscans still exist, and both have holdings on Tirane including Monasteries, Convents, and schools. Missionary work has almost ceased to exist, at least on Tirane, as no "indigenous" peoples exist with no experience in Catholicism, and the other cultures on Tirane consider missionary evangelism as either something close to subversion, or a quaint and silly old ritual. Still, quiet subtle efforts by these orders (and their non-Catholic competitors) to gain adherents continues, even though most of the time they seem top be converting the more spiritually fickle members of each others communities.
The Cabraline Order is the first (and so far only) "native" Tiranean Holy order. They are very interested in "demonstrating" the hand of the almighty in the making of Tirane, and have amassed a considerable body of "proof" that Tirane could not possibly have evolved naturally. They also have an unusually aggressive stance regarding fringe groups, sects, and cults, and view their ongoing campaign to "reeducate" cult members as a holy mission. They are naturally despised by leaders of the Raamtha cult. More traditional religions, even those utterly unrelated to Catholicism, they leave alone.
The Celestine Order , inactive since 1785, was re-established as the Tiranean branch of the Benedictines. This group has the most in common, on Tirane, with the traditional image of Monks. They wear hooded capes, and live ordered lives in reclusive monasteries. The Celestines have appointed themselves as the scholars of "Xenotheology", the rarified branch of theology that deals with the places of the other sentient species within the Divine Order. To date, they have dominated, and more often than not led, the Council on Xenotheological Studies. Thus far, the Popes have interdicted all their attempts to conduct direct questioning of alien sentients on religious matters, but the Celestines have been creative, and have gleaned some religious insight from the Pentapods, Sung, Xiang, and Ebers. Thus far, they have been unsuccessful in their attempts to obtain any information at all on the spiritual beliefs, if any, of the Kafers. The Church has prohibited the teaching of religion to the aliens until certain "questions" are settled. It has also prohibited the teaching of any of the Celestines findings as anything more than speculation. Several other mainstream theological leaders have put forth restrictions on their own followings similar to the Popes.
This organization has functions the average churchgoer never suspects. On their most obvious level, they handle the security affairs of the Vatican, especially outside of Earth. The Tirane detachment of the Swiss Guard, which is now mostly not Swiss at all, comes under their purview. That more than half of the Swiss Guards operate in plain clothes is a very open secret. They also conduct internal and occasional external investigations on matters of interest to the Church. Generally, they are called in to investigate corruption or wrongdoing on the part of a cleric or church official, or when some crime has been directed against the church. What is generally not discussed is that the ESS is a full blown intelligence service. They are somewhat deficient in the field of technical intelligence gathering, but have a wide range of human informants, and are extremely well grounded in the arts of manipulation and deception. Alone among the various intelligence agencies, they can claim loyalty to a power higher than the head of a nation. This gives them a solid and widely dispersed corps of supporters and potential informants. They are known to have penetrated most of Latin America, North America, and Europe. The ESS is flatly forbidden from backing one side over another in political matters. They are fully aware, for example, that if covert support to Brazil in a dispute were to be exposed, it would be incredibly damaging. They provide information only to the Pope and his circle, who then act on it as they wish. Sometimes, it has been used in negotiations, for example, a Church mediator may suddenly pull out a piece of information both sides of a dispute would rather not see aired, and by creating a common interest, nudge the two towards agreement.
Although the Church never openly involves itself in the internal affairs of other religions, they are involved in a nasty feud with the Novo Catolico Church, a conflict that has even, thanks to the zealots that always seem to accompany religious disputes, turned violent on occasion. The ESS has the job of infiltrating and spying on, as well as actively working to discredit, the Novo Catolico Church. Finally, they received from the Vatican, over two centuries ago, the bizarre task of theological investigations. When someone claims to have experienced a miracle, or claims to be able to perform miracles, or some other supernatural event is claimed, it is the ESS that investigates. They examine the situation quietly, rarely announcing their presence, using the latest scientific know-how to detect frauds and cheats. They take great pride in exposing would be prophets, miracle workers, faith healers, and psychics trying to dupe the faithful and gullible for personal gain.
Acres portion of the Brazilian military is a small one. It has one notable joint command- this being the Brazilian Unified Chaplaincy School and Support Command at Basilicade. This unit is basically a school and administration service for the Brazilian military chaplains on Earth as well as on Tirane. This unit is in turn supported by a Brazilian Marines service battalion that supplies security and logistic support to the Chaplains command. Both of these units are stationed in the Fortaleza General Byngton, named for the Brazilian general who commanded the planet-side defenses on Tirane during the First Rio Plata War, a position of some honor even though actual military actions on the surface of the planet were few, and none of them, even the few pitched battles fought, actually involved General Byngton. Fortaleza General Byngton forms the southern border of Basilicades Distrito Vaticano. It is a massive, archaic looking stone and brick structure with ramparts and earthworks, looking like something designed to defend the European cities of the 17th century. The building houses a Brazilian Military Museum as well, and most of it is open to public tours.
Headquartered here as well is the Acre Garrison Group, a diverse group that combines logistic and administrative units with two light infantry battalions, a heavy weapons battalion, and an airmobile battalion. In time of war (a slim possibility, but nonetheless military officers just love planning for things like this) reserve troops would add two more infantry battalions, an engineer battalion, and a transport battalion. Three of the infantry battalions and the other combat units and their direct support elements would split off from the garrison troops to form the independent Mountain Infantry Brigade, leaving the upper echelon support units and one battalion of infantry as a garrison. The Group has two other bases, posts at Boa Santos on the north coast, and Bari in the western area of the Estado. Each of these sites has an armory, in which is stored the equipment that would be needed to bring the Brigade up to wartime strength. The Acre Garrison does not receive first pick of military equipment, and the weapons, vehicles, and other hardware stored in the armories is out of date. Still lethal, of course, but not up to the level of first line combat forces. While suitable for security of this mountainous Estado, the Acre Brigade would not be a wise deployment choice outside north-central Cabralia.
The Brazilian Air Force does not maintain a base of its own in Acre, but supports the Army with a few utility aircraft, which are stationed at the Army post at Boa Santos ,and uses civilian flight facilities. They also supply a Acre Air Environment Surveillance and Control Group, headquartered at the Fortaleza General Byngton, but consisting of sensor and missile installations deployed on several mountain peaks. This unit is considered a very high priority force; a terrorist attack against Basilicade could have historical repercussions, and the Brazilian Air Force takes this seriously. Private aircraft operating in the area should be cautious.
Basilicade is connected by a branch superestrada to a junction with the Superestrada Sur, in Oxala between Kanztauropolis and the western border. North of the Oxala border, it belongs to the Estado of Acre. This major airfilm and highway route follows a natural pass that affords relatively easy access from northwestern Oxala, and tunnels through the steep terrain isolating the city, and its construction was a major expense, pooling money from National, State, Church, and private sources. Usage fees for the road are substantially higher than other similar routes in Provincia do Brasil. A mid sized private passenger vehicle is charged the equivalent for 8 Livres for the trip, or twice that for a private hover vehicle travelling on the airfilm track and interfacing with the auto-navigation system. Larger private vehicles are charged higher prices accordingly.
The Superestrada Norte winds along the north coast, turning south towards Lusitanium in Campobelo in the western area of Acre. On the map, it seems offer a much closer link to Basilicade, however, this link would cross the northern terminus of the great rift valley which cuts across central Campobelo, and no routes exist that would allow airfilm access without massive engineering effort. Wheeled vehicles area not quite so handicapped. There are a number of minor roads through the mountains, connecting Basilicade with the northern and western regions of the Estado, and linking some of the minor towns and other points of interest. Public transportation on any of these roads, however, is next to none-existant. Renting transportation in Basilicade tends to be expensive, as its the only game in town, But its cheaper and quicker than renting in Lusitanium or Kanztauropolis and driving in. At least, the landscape on the long drive in is dramatic.
Many roads in Acre are narrow and poorly lit, and the mountains offer no shortage of hairpin curves, falling rocks zones, random interference from wildlife, and other conditions that can lead to the Acre State Police to put the remains of another visiting inexperienced driver in a body bag. Caution is highly recommended. Actually, the fatality rate for visiting drivers is low, but only because most of them have enough sense not to go speeding around rural Acre late at night.
The urban trains dont travel nearly as quickly as their Superestrada counterparts, this being due to the much shorter distance between stops and the need to keep noise down in the city. But they have the advantage of being able to use the same track the longer range airfilm trains use, and so allow the use of dual use facilities. Basilicade is not an exceptionally large city, and the urban transportation system is small, consisting of 22 Airfilm stations along 3 different tracks, which converge around the edges of Vaticano, as well as the special tram service that climbs up into Consolacao. A day ticket for the Basilicade system costs 20 Cruzeiros, the equivalent of .8 Livres.
Basilicade, had it been a more ordinary city, such as relatively nearby Lusitanium, would probably not rate an international airport. However, between the role the Vatican has chosen the city to play, and the lack of quick and easy travel to another city, necessity dictated a significant airport for Basilicade. Aeroporto Basilicade began operation in June of 2258. Today it remains small in relation to other international airports. Only three airlines link it to foreign destinations, they being Aerotrans Brazil, Air France, and Tiranair. Alaoeste connects Basilicade to a number of regional destinations, including the two other sites in Acre, Boa Santos on the north coast and Bari in the western area of the Estado, With no local airfilm service, these short range aviation links are well used.
Approaches into the city of Basilicade are limited by the irregular local topology, so Aeroporto Basilicade is about 40 kilometers from the city. The airport is a muddle of diverse buildings. The two foreign airlines jointly own Terminal Three, the newest and most contemporary in appearance. Aerotrans Brazil is housed in Terminal One, the ornate brick and stone centerpiece of the airport that also houses the offices and control center. Its carved cornice and spires clash with the smoother, younger buildings flanking it. The Basilicade Superestrada runs close by it, and extra airfilm and highway lanes join the superestrada between the city and the airport. The airport has become a hotel, entertainment, restaurant and commerce hub in its own right. Away from the heavy hand of Basilicade municipal oversight, enterprises have sprawled around the airport. Advertising assault the visitor, then dies away as Basilicade proper is approached.
The Vatican has two private passenger transport aircraft stationed here. They are both very well appointed supersonic aircraft, easily recognizable by their gold and silver tail emblems.
The sparsely populated northern coast of Acre has several sites that would make acceptable ports, but the lack of demand has limited development to the harbor at Porto do Roeder. This small port is home to Acres tiny fishing fleet and some coastal freighters that run cargo along the north coast of Cabralia. The freighters are owned by Acre Marine S.A., and make occasional runs to Ameraterasu, Tundukubwa, and New Canberra in addition to serving Brazilian ports. Acres coast has long been recognized as the weak spot in Provincia do Brasils shield against smuggling. With no Navy or Air Force units locally based, Acres maritime approaches is on the cusp of two flotilla zones, but neither can give it its full attention. The several undeveloped but naturally sheltered harbors are also easy to exploit.
The eastern mountains of Acre conceal exploitable deposits of several metals, most notably copper, tin, silver, and gold. The gold is currently being mined, by several small independent operations. The copper waits until demand and scarcity raises the profitability of the deposits. Both tin and silver mines are in operation in the western area of the Estado, operated by a corporation called Mineral Montanha, SA. This firm is headquartered in Sera do Prado, but with 6,000 employees in Acre it is the largest corporate employer in the Estado. The gold is present in small but very rich veins scattered through some of the roughest terrain in the Estado, which , not coincidentally, also happens to be land largely owned by monasteries. The Church leases out mining concessions to small companies, and all involved profit. Much of the Estado hasnt been surveyed in depth yet, but based on initial studies it is widely believed that only a fraction of Acres mineral wealth has been discovered.
The extraction industry employing the most workers in Acre is the quarryable stone sector. The presence of excellent, marble like building stone was one of the draws that made the region attractive to the Church. The Church itself owns many of the quarries, which are used to provide distinctive construction stone for religious buildings throughout Provincia do Brazil and elsewhere in terrain. The quarried stone of Acre is delicately veined pale white-amber stone, capable of taking on a high gloss and being finely tooled. It is used for both construction and statuary.
Acre is tied into Provincia do Brasils main power grid. Many of the power transmission lines are vulnerable to forces of nature, or human sabotage, as they stretch alongside the roads through rough terrain. To prevent loss of power to critical facilities, the Estado government constructed several nuclear power plants as backup power plants. The power plants, located northwest of Basilicade at the end of the valley in which the city is built, stays active at low power, serving about 25% of the Estados needs.
Acres heavy industry is very much in existence, but isnt much in evidence, This is because heavy industry here tends to be rural. Several factors conspire to keep factories out of the Basilicade area and spread across the northern and western area of the Estado. Aside from the shortage of space in Basilicade, and cultural influences that work against factories, there is the problems with transportation. The factories in Acre tend to be within easy reach of the Superestrada Norte. Acres factories tend to be owned by out of state firms. Industrial production in Acre is not great, as it is a small and not very industrialized population, and most of the goods produced are for local consumption. An exception is the Xeronal plant in the western town of Mulamorte, which produces recording media- chips and crystals for the computer and holo industries, and the pharmaceutical plants along the north shore. The largest product produced for export, at least in tonnage, is construction cement, produced at a series of plants owned by Foya SA, a company based in terrestrial Brazil.
Moving the wheels of the economy is not Acres strong suit. Few significant business enterprises are headquartered here. The stores, banks, and other businesses in Acre tend to be either branches or franchises of firms headquartered elsewhere, or small, independent "mom and pop" businesses. Aside from a heavy local tax burden (with so many institutions and citizens here paying no taxes, and the occasional stinginess of the Churchs stipends, someones got to foot the bill for the Estado) there are some laws which weight heavily against businesses prospering in Acre. First among these are the Holy Day restrictions. No business is conducted in Acre on Sunday, or on any of 22 other designated Catholic Holy Days, or on 16 other designated Holy Days (the work of the Department of Cultural Affairs). Access to the Brazilian Fazenet (the computer network upon which most stock and other financial trades are performed, see Cabo Vitoro) is shut off on these days as well. A sock broker in Basilicade might as well be on another planet, and they find the stress of not knowing what the market is doing intolerable. There are few brokers in Acre. Businesses almost lost Saturdays as well, as activists attempted to have it declared a Holy Day for followers of Judaism, but Acres tiny (Very tiny, they could fit in one bus) Jewish population successfully lobbied against it.
The only commercial sector that has been very successful in Acre has been the manufacture and selling of religious goods, everything from Crucifixes to Bibles to Communion Cups to Rosary Beads. It may seem like an insignificant sector, but there are 70 million Catholics in Provincia do Brasil, and between them, they can buy a lot of votive candles. In fact, this market alone has made Acre the leading producer of candles off Earth. Of course, the Vatican does not involve itself in the marketing of these goods, nor do they identify anything as an "official" product of the Church, nor do they perform any special blessings or rituals that make the products of Acre somehow more sanctified than similar products made elsewhere. But they will (for a small fee) document that a product does NOT conflict with Roman Catholic teachings or doctrines. This, plus the location and the mystique associated with the location, make Acres goods attractive to the devout buyer. These goods are hawked to tourists throughout Acre, much as Mexican vendors once pushed heavy woolen blankets onto American tourists sweltering in the heat.
Basilicade craftsmanship, developed over the decades by the Church, through the College for the Practical Arts, is evident in the small shops of Basilicade. The city has a large number of jewelers, and other specialized craftpeople, such as makers of glass and crystal art, and bookbinders who produce old fashioned style books bound in leather, velvet, and gold. Sculptors produce both classical statuary and widely desired items of practical art- marble bird baths, stained glass lamps, and other treasures. Tourists and other visitors to Basilicade generally leave with much heavier luggage than they brought in.
Acre has about 155,000 farmers, mostly on small family or communal farms scattered across the Estado, but primarily in the green valleys between mountain spurs. In addition , there are about a dozen monasteries that produce agricultural goods, also predominantly in mountain terrain. Acre has a number of "peasant" farms, producing enough to sustain the family at a minimal standard of living, and little else. Many of these are actually communal farms. The communal farm villages tend to belong to extremely devout Catholics who moved to Acre to be closer to what they considered the spiritual center of Tirane. They lead deliberately simple lives, often forgoing many modern conveniences. Some live in primitive homes without power or communications and data connections. Their goal is to live spiritually centered lives, and following in the footsteps of many groups before them, believe that a life without modern distractions better enables one to live in Holy harmony. The communes generally have up to several dozen peasant homes gathered around a central hall, the hall being the only structure in the compound equipped with modern conveniences. They often own several vehicles and some arm machinery collectively. There are over a hundred of these communes in Acre, most barely scrape by, and living conditions ar usually primitive. About half the farmers in Acre are professionals rather than peasants.
Because of its domination by the Roman Catholic Church, Acre is often considered to be a place somehow "opposed" to the endeavors of science. This is a misconception the Estado government, as well as the Curia Tirana, has been laboring against for decades. The church does not consider itself opposed to science. After all, they did pardon Galilleo three centuries ago. Yes, its true that was four centuries or so after his conviction, but no one has accused the Vatican of moving too quickly in a long time. Its a matter of ones perception of Truth. Being a religions organization, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes certain things as Truths, and while certain scientific discoveries may appear to conflict with Truth, that is only the case while the full meaning and context of the scientific discovery has not yet been revealed. In the end, they believe, everything that science discovers to be true will also be shown to be in harmony, or at least not in conflict, with revealed Divine Truths known to the church.
The Seminary of Basilicade is the largest and most important institution for the training of the priesthood on Tirane. It was built as one of the original structures of Vaticano, and completed in 2251, although much of its fašade and cornice ornamentation was added decades later. Total student enrollment in 2300 was 2,840. The Seminary is a graduate level school, which accepts students with degrees from throughout Tirane.
The University of Acre is Acres main secular academy, and exists primarily because the Brazilian federal government said it would have to. It is the smallest Estado level school in Provincia do Brasil. It is also one of the youngest, having been founded in 2260, well after the Catholic institutions had opened their doors. It had an enrollment of 16,000 in 2300, with its main campus at Basilicade having 75% of the student population. There is a secondary campus at the town of Castoso in the western area of the Estado. The University of Acre tries to dominate what the Church affiliated schools cannot. It has an excellent school of medicine, which has managed to "Cross-attach" itself to other departments within the university. Thus, the University of Acre offers excellent programs in Medical Administration, Kinesiology, and Occupational Safety and Ergonomics. The University receives regular grants from the Brazilian Space Agency, the AEB, whose ships have benefitted from interior workspace layout improvements suggested by University of Acre research. The University of Acre does not have a discreet campus. Rather, it occupies a series of buildings clustered around several plazas in Cerqueira Santo.
The Jesuit University of Acre is noted as being one of mankinds foremost institutions for philosophical study. In this field it is unmatched outside of Earth. This is the largest school in Acre, with a student population of 33,000 in 2300. Its interests lie mainly in History, Psychology, Social Science, Economics, and Humanities, aside from their famous department of Philosophy. It is located in Cerqueira Santo in Basilicade, and has its own station on the airfilm train system serving the city.
The Roman Catholic Church was insistent from the beginning that its buildings on Tirane be distinctive, and hold to traditional patterns of ornamentation and architecture, so as to create the impression of age on a world where everything was new. To do this, of course, required trained artisans, who were in short supply. There were plenty of people on Tirane who could rebuild an MHD power plant, very few who could apply gilding, carve a piece of stone into the likeness of a saint, or set stained glass. To increase the skill level of the population in these pursuits, the Church founded the College for the Practical Arts in 2248. It has increased in popularity ever since, and the Church, which was originally assumed to be the only significant patron of its students, has found it necessary to compete with the demand from the private sector, and governments. Many of the craftsmen trained here have gone on to become well known sculptors, artists and designers. The school had an enrollment of 7,000 in 2300.
Prior to the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life, some philosophers predicted that the discovery of non-human civilizations would throw human religions into disarray. That turned out not be the case. With a few minor exceptions, human philosophies turned out to be quite resilient. But there is no denying the questions posed by the existence of intelligent non-humans. Where do these beings fit in to the scheme of things? Is mankind truly special, having been chosen to receive Divine knowledge, or does it come to each intelligent species in its own form, making humanity just another gifted race in a Universe that may contain billions. Are the intelligent aliens, as some have proposed, merely intelligent animals, without the divine spark present in humans? And what are humanitys responsibilities towards them? The Roman Catholic Church Hierarchy has quite wisely put forth its answer: Let us study the issue, and well get back to you later. They set up the Council for Xenotheological Studies on Tirane rather than Earth for two reasons: First, since the council was to deal with issues beyond Earth, it seemed natural to locate it beyond Earth. Second, they hope one day to invite philosophers of races being studied to take part in the deliberations, although currently they are prohibited from direst questioning of aliens on religious matters. (Nothing prevents them, however, from gently nudging a conversation in that direction, and then listening to what the alien has to say. Much of their field research has been done in this manner.) Due to the Quarantine, interviews and discussions with aliens would be impossible on Earth.
The council, which is heavily dominated by the Celestine Order, has issued no conclusions thus far, despite decades of research. Despite any private conclusions they may have reached, the Popes have kept their research from being promoted as anything more than speculation. Progress remains slow because the Vatican has been stymied in many attempts to open up direct contacts with alien races. The Pentapods have shown no interest in this line of research, or, when directly questioned about matters theological, give bizarre answers that seem to indicate that the average Pentapod doesnt get involved in such things- even though they believe in deities of a sort, all the thinking concerning those deities appears to be a job left to a distinct class of Pentapods left back on the home planet. Rumors indicate the council may place them in the "intelligent animals" category. Ebers seem to be a hot prospect for the council. After all, they have ancient and complex rituals, and lets face it, they do dress like Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, the nations with direct Eber contact have not been entirely cooperative with the Church. (Although the Texans are beginning to come around.) The Kafers are an obvious hot topic, although research into Kafer philosophy tends to be highly speculative as no Kafers willing to engage in peaceful philosophical discussions have yet stepped forward. Unfortunately, their violent behavior towards humans makes it all the more imperative that their philosophies be understood, as that maybe the only way, in the long run, to allow both humans and Kafers to survive in the universe. Currently the Sung are perhaps best understood, and upon their race, as upon all the others, the Vatican has issued a "no proselytizing" order, forbidding its clergy and lay persons from trying to spread Christianity to them. The Vatican has issued suggestions to Non-Catholic religious leaders that they follow suit. The council always attempts to incorporate non-Catholic views in their studies, and even devout atheist philosophers have been invited to sit in on the work at Basilicade.
The exposed rock strata of southwestern Acre led to the discovery, in the past 10 years, of a treasure trove of fossilized Tiranean life forms between 44 and 110 million years ago, filling in many gaps in the knowledge of Tiranes biological history and opening up many new questions. Its now known that the biology of Tirane has experience more frequent extinction events than that of Earth, a likely consequence of a more complex star system. No permanent facilities exist to collect and study these fossils, but visiting research teams are often based in the town of Ramo, where the local hotel has prepared facilities to accommodate them. New discoveries in the region are being made continually, and the importance of this site in Tiranean paleontology is likely to grow.
Secular entertainment in Acre centers around the Opera House, restaurants and theatres of Distrito Metroa, the taverns in Distrito Cerqueira Santo, the gaudy diversions around the Aeroporto Basilicade (which actually includes some of the better hotels and restaurants in Acre) and the handful of small theatres, restaurants, and inns available in the other towns. Naturally, this is the most morally conservative region in Tirane. If the Church doesnt approve, dont expect to see it in an Acre theatre, or on an Acre menu. Even the Opera House here has a restricted repertoire. If there is anything to be found here that is not straight laced, prim and proper, rumor has it its well hidden, but one can find it by following off duty soldiers around.
For a city of its size, Basilicade is just crawling with them. The Acre Museum of Art houses the largest collection of exotic statuary between Vitorio de Conquista and Sao Celestino. The Catholic Museum features artwork and ritual objects produced by and for the Catholic faith, as well as hosting rotating displays of antiquities from Earth. The Museum of Anthropology in Distrito Metroa is the largest of its kind on Tirane, and with artifacts and recreations brought from Earth, tells as much of the story of mankind as its 40,000 square meters of exhibit floor space can display. The Museum of Anthropology manages provoke storms of controversy now and then by portraying mankinds darkest moments in addition to the glorious peaks. Germans were quite upset with the museums depiction of a World War Two extermination camp, and even the Roman Catholic Church was piqued by the museums exhibits on the Inquisition. The ever changing exhibits of the museum cover a lot of diverse episodes in human history, but apparently some did not expect the Spanish Inquisition.
The voice of the Vatican, netcast throughout Tirane and broadcast in Provincia do Brasil and other areas of Tirane, is headquartered, naturally, in Vaticano in Basilicade. If one filters out the religious content and frequent sermonizing, their coverage of world news is extensive, knowledgeable, and fair. Much of their content is purely cultural, and includes religious instruction and ritual in most of the languages in use on Tirane. They also run language instruction, history documentaries, and other secular programming.
Acre has some of the most remarkable terrain forms in Provincia do Brasil. These dont draw nearly the number of visitors that the great catholic institutions do, but thats probably for the better. Outfitters and guides can be found in Basilicade, but the better ones are out there in the small towns, especially in the mountains of the northeast, like Canhao do Gobo and Nova Santarem. The monks Franciscan monastery of Sao Miguel has taken upon themselves the roles of park rangers and nature guides in a vast stretch of broken, gorge cut terrain near the border with Sera do Prado. They can offer some of the most spectacular sites in Provincia do Brasil, and they claim that experiencing such natural wonder enhances ones spiritual understanding, but the trails they know are not for novices.
The Acre Acors are not among Provincia do Brasils better Futbol squads, and they play in the colonys only open air stadium, but they can always count on a professionally delivered benediction before a game. They play in Governador Boyle Stadium, named for the first governor of Acre, when it was still called Dominicada.
Adapted to life in rough terrain, Acres wildlife includes Jacanthas and Tarnders (See Oxala) as well as small, agile, rodent-like creatures that prowl the gorges and canyons. Tow of the more interesting local species are described below.
Killer. No. Appearing: 1 Initiative: 10 Melee Hit Chance: Easy, Size: 8 Kg Speed 90 Armor 0, Consciousness: 1 Life: 3 WPM 0 DPV 0.2 Signature None
A local relative of the Weasent, the Wisenta Montana is smaller than its woodland relative, and an able burrower. It is a long, sinewy, furry predator that seemingly combines the characteristics of a ferret and a boa constrictor. Wisentas Montanas consume small prey, being a major predator of the "Gobo" (See below). They will never attack anything larger than a house cat. The feisty little beast attacks by looping its long body around its prey. This attack is in addition to its biting attack, and if it succeeds, allows the creature to bite twice per round each round thereafter. This looping attack can also damage small creatures, but never anything larger than 10 kg.
Intermittent. No. Appearing: 100-1000 Initiative: 2, 7* Melee Hit Chance: Difficult, Routine* Size: 1kg, 1.5 kg* Speed 100 (Flying) Armor 0, Consciousness: 1 Life: 1 WPM 6 DPV 0, 0.1* Signature None
*These statistics apply to infertile females.
The variant of the Drukey native to the Provincia do Brasil. Millions of years of isolation from their relatives in New Canberra and elsewhere have led the Gobo to evolve its own unique features. It is smaller than the Drukey, but is far more gregarious. Living in swarms of hundreds, the Gobo has developed developmental specialization in a manner similar to some Earth creatures, in the manner of Honey Bees. There are four forms of adult Gobo: Fertile females are large and spend most of their lives producing one batch of offspring after the next. Fertile males are small, and spend most of their time browsing and returning food to the fertile females. The females reward those that bring back the best offerings with opportunities to mate. Infertile males are very few in number. They are aggressive and fling themselves at predators in attacks that are often suicidal, but allow the flock to flee. Infertile females are the difficult ones. These creatures are large, and smart, probably on a level with Earths crows and ravens. They fly around the fringe of a flocks browsing area, seeking out food and resting areas. Clever and possessed of an acute sense of smell, they have an uncanny ability to locate food in packages and containers. Upon locating food they will fly back tot he flock and return with dozens of other Gobos of all sorts except fertile females currently with young. They will then act as natures equivalent of forward air controllers. Under the direction of a few infertile female Gobos, a swarm can pick an area clean of edibles like so many flying vegetarian piranhas. Their attack is swift and silent, with the infertile females opening packages that humans remain convinced could never have been opened by little flying animals. Many a group of campers exploring Acres magnificent wilderness have awoken to find their food supplies looted to the last crumb, with only meat products remaining untouched. They are a nemesis to farms. Although living throughout northern Cabralia, Gobos are especially prevalent in Acre, where the deep gorges and cantons offer them excellent resting areas, where they spend most of the day, and ride out difficult weather.