Project Newrad is a multi-directorate effort of the Kalgachi government to obtain full self-sufficiency for the Lieutenancy of Lapivril, an entirely underground territory, in fulfilment of its obligations to the Oktavyan Code (II.V.4).
Origin and Rationale
The Lieutenancy of Lapivril was conceived in the 160s Anno Libertatis by adepts of the Troglodyti embedded in the research and development organs of the Directorate of Education and Outreach. As the decade wore on they found themselves increasingly concerned that the incessant militarism of Kalgachia's immense neighbour Shireroth appeared to be escalating untramelled toward a psychotic threshold at which rational judgement would be abandoned, the deterrent effect of the highly optimised Kalgachi armed forces would evaporate, and no amount of expense in Shirerithian blood or treasure would be considered too great to finally act upon the Shirerithian leadership's oft-stated desire to exterminate the Kalgachi nation; moreover that dissent to the prevailing regime within Shireroth had effectively been eradicated from public life and could no longer be counted upon to moderate even the most heinous excesses of the country's ideologically turgid leadership.
The Troglodyti looked askance at the assurances of the Kalgachi Church, Defence Force and Prefects that their respective armed forces could throw up and sustain a viable resistance to Shireroth's effectively infinite hordes of gravtanks, trained troops, chillingly well-motivated paramilitary death squads and a multi-layered surveillance capability so advanced as to be indistinguishable from godlike omniscience - at the very least, it was felt among Troglodyti that the damage incurred by such an invasion upon the moral integrity and social cohesion of Kalgachia would reduce its whole society over the long term to a hollow shell which, although possibly surviving in some form, would come to resemble a mere shadow of the plucky mountain culture which had been lovingly cultivated after the demise of Minarboria. In turn, according to the Troglodyti, this would pull Kalgachia from the grace and favour of the Garden Ketheric and leave it wide open to prompt annihilation - unless some new place of safety could be found to shelter the kernel of their untainted being while their assailants' unsustainable predationism was kept safely distant and allowed to burn itself out in a cannibalistic orgy.
While a minority view among the Kalgachi chthonarchy, it held a disproportionate weight due to the Troglodyti's chairmanship of Kalgachia's ruling Council of Perfecti; thus, when they unilaterally began work on an underground national redoubt so deep and self-contained that it effectively constituted a seperate civilisation in the mould of the ancient PRH or Kennerext, the resources of the Kalgachi state began flowing toward it almost immediately. While the technical obstacles were judged by the Direatorate of Education and Outreach to be within Kalgachia's competence to overcome, they were nonetheless considered immense to the extent that their resolution would require the greatest expenditure in resources ever committed to a single Kalgachi capital project. The administrative setup and initial tunnelling was feasible enough - these began in earnest under the jurisdiction of the new Lieutenancy of Lapivril, created through a reform of the Oktavyan Code in 167 AL - but the development of a self-contained infrastructure was by far the greatest challenge, requiring the input of several government organs under Troglodyte guidance. The joint effort came to be named Project Newrad: allegedly a portmanteau of the words 'New', 'Ke'Najrad' the capital of the technologically-advanced Khaz Modani Empire of ancient Benacian fable, and 'Radium' referring to the granitic compositon of the local rock which would ultimately be instrumental to the project's viability.
Project Newrad is made possible by Kalgachia's location along the Great Benacian Subduction, a tectonic boundary stretching from Chralisjek to Puritania which forms the mountainous spine of the continent. The accompanying arc of magmatic diapirs liberated from the constraints of the Micran core provides two essential resources:
- Granitic rock rich in radium-226, the alpha radiation of which can be harnessed to liberate neutrons from carbon-12 for the transmutative fission of geologically-abundant Period III elements into life-essential Period II elements, enabling the synthesis of air and water and the maintenance of an underground soil biome for arable crops.
- Limitless geothermal energy for the refinement of radium and carbon to concentrations which make their use as an unchained fission trigger viable at scale in specially-designed reactors. Also essential for the energy-intensive congelation of reactor product, the generation of ultraviolet lighting for the proper activation of chorophyll, cholecalciferol and tyrosine, the refrigerative dissipation of ambient deep-lithosphere heat to levels suitable for habitation, and the scrubbing of naturally-occurring but carcinogenic radon-222 from the air.
Project Newrad was commenced unofficially around 165 AL as a private initiative of the Troglodyti from an underground facility they maintained adjacent to Command Rhizome WESTNEST of the Kalgachi Defence Force, thought to lie somewhere between the cities of Jollity, Bergburg and Katarsis. Funding and resourcing was initially secured through Deep Services, a Troglodyte-administered unitary enterprise providing property maintenance and administrative services to low-output businesses of the Church of Kalgachia, in exchange for payment in Kalgarrand and reams of mined data about the Kalgachi economy in which the Troglodyti took an apparent interest. As its well-connected initiates embedded in the Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes became involved in the project, it was decided to give over a proportion of the emergent chemical engineering technology to the manufacture of synthetic drugs which were sold on to narcotics traders operating in Kalgachia's anarchic near-abroad, filtering it through numerous criminal supply chains to the lucrative underground markets of Shireroth.
As the operation grew more ambitious it eventually drew the attention of the Prefects, Kalgachia's internal security service, whose reports down the chain of command eventually reached its representative on Kalgachia's ruling Council of Perfecti and allegedly led to a confrontation of the council's chairman, a Troglodyte by tradition who was broadly aware of the project but, for whatever reason, had neglected to inform his brethren about it. It was decided by the Council that the project would need to be brought under fuller state oversight, if only for the sake of it being properly resourced and conveying some of its benefits to the wider Kalgachi population. The Troglodyti, however, were most insistent that the incursion of the general population into its new underground territory would be prejudicial to its purpose. The Perfecti duly countered that such an elitist regime would make its resourcing by the Kalgachi population so unjustifiable as to be politically hazardous, and that it would have to be wholly limited to a 'Deep Private' recourcing model unless it devoted some of its capabilities to the material assistance of the surface society. The Troglodyti partially relented on the matter, reulting in a hybrid model whereby certain organs of Kalgachi state allotted expertise and specific resources to the project, with the rest picked up by the Troglodyti's 'off-book' assets. By 167 AL the underground spaces excavated for the project were granted territorial autonomy as the Lieutenancy of Lapivril, and responsibility for various aspects of its development fell into a recognisable pattern:
- Overall management by the Troglodyti
- Technical development by the Directorate of Education and Outreach
- Subsurface biome optimisation by the Directorate of Health and Public Welfare
- Off-border fund sourcing by the Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes
- Infrastructure development by the Directorate of Public Works
The absence of other state organs in the project, most notably the populist Church and KDF, is unprecedented in Kalgachia's history and has created a markedly different atmosphere from that nearer the surface, in which the usual allusions to staring down a host of beseiging archons in a state of vigilant distraction are reduced to a mere silent foundation in the minds of Project Newrad's participants as they have become more concerned with the resolution of countless technical obstacles and a general emphasis on forging a new Kalgachi paradigm for its own sake, rather than the notion of reactive flight from the tumult of the surface world which inspired the project's original creation. This new and fearless mode of thinking is ultimately made possible by the safety of Lapivril's location beneath several kilometres of solid rock and the strict restriction on the number of its interfaces with the surface, built with easy demolition and concealment in mind; indeed the prospect of Lapivril's entire territory detaching itself from the surface and migrating around the lithosphere or even the upper mantle of Micras, consuming rock in its path and excreting in its wake like tunnelling worm, is not considered entirely ridiculous, being at times shamelessly advocated by the project's Nezeni participants whose Deep Singer ancestors are thought to have lived in just such a manner in ancient prehistory and were reputed to have returned to it after Minarboria's demise.
The exact location and size of Lapivril is unknown but it is thought to be smaller than Jollity, Kalgachia's smallest surface Lieutenancy - perhaps no larger than a single city. Admission to Lapivril in any capacity is considered a prestigious privilege; only those directly involved in Project Newrad and their immediate families are permitted to enter. Possession of a valid Urchaginka is mandatory and ethnicity is nominally limited to the mixed Kalgachi or Nezeni, although exemptions are made for initiates of the Troglodyti, irreplaceable scientists and distinguished visitors.
The amount of transit points between Lapivril and the surface is minimised by law and their exact locations are classified; all of them are thought to open into the triangle of railway tunnels which connect the cities of Jollity, Bergburg and Katarsis. Rumours of sinister arcane activities in these tunnels, along with the restless ghosts of several thousand Froyalanish labourers who died building them, tend to ward off the curious.