The following century saw a great leap forwards for the Free State. The availability of a huge pool of labour from the Protectorate allowed full scale industrialisation to begin.
Those towns in the Protectorate that lay at nexus points in the railroad network soon started to grow at a phenomenal rate. Factories blossomed from the dry prairie, and began to belch the thick smoke of progress across the grass sea.
With the growth of industry came an increased demand for fuel. At first this was in the form of wood for the steam engines. Loggers began to clear the vast temperate forests which straddled Colchis' poles. Arable farmers soon followed the loggers and by 5200AD great fields of wheat and dew-grass covered thousands of square kilometres.
Before long the demand for petrochemicals far outstripped that for wood. At first coal was quarried from shallow deposits beneath the forests. But, by the early years of the 53rd century the focus had shifted to oil extraction.
Over the decades the Free State evolved into an autocratic bureaucracy. It was officially a federation of independent city-states. However the authority of the 'Central Committee' was practically unchallengable.
Polarisation & Nationalism
As 'civilization' spread across Colchis, the sense of community once enjoyed within the tiny Free State became less and less relevant. The new cities were vastly larger, and more widely spaced than those of earlier years. As the years passed, they began to form identities of their own. The authority of the central government in Perth started to fade.
Cities of Colchis c. 5290AD
A representative selection...
Perth - Colchis' oldest city, at the centre of the Free State. Main industries were administration and education. Population was almost exclusively English-speaking christian.
Luke's Harbour - A sprawling metropolis on the edge of the Shining Sea about 900km from Perth. An important port and major railroad hub. Specialised in shipbuilding and entertainment. English speaking christian and some wheelies.
St. Jean - Formerly a coal mining town on the verge of the Northern Forest. Came to specialise in steel making and vehicle manufacture. Mostly French-speaking Catholic.
Fiver - Situated in the foothills of the Blue Mountains about 500km South of Perth. Famed for its electronic goods, and the fabulous skiing. Mostly English speaking, with a small French minority. No wheelies.
Nuzhat - In the heart of the grass sea, 7000km from the Free State. Nuzhat was galvanised by the influx of colonists and crew peparing for the journey to New Colchis. It came to be Colchis' premier manufacturer of advanced power plants, as well as a major agricultural centre, Inhabitants were mainly wheelies, with some English-speaking christians.
As the dawn of the 54th Century loomed, Colchis had become a populous, industrialised world, with over 200 million inhabitants. This new world seemed to magnify the forces that divided regions from one another.
In 5298AD the French-speaking cities of St. Jean, Deux Arbres, and Guillaume declared themselves to be the Confederation of Independent States (CEI). The declaration was denounced by the remainder of the Free State, but no action was taken to prevent the CEI from operating.
Over the next twenty years, city after city declared themselves independent or refused to pay taxes to the central government. For the first time Colchis saw restrictions on movement and taxes on the movement of goods.