“You are orphans, earthdeirdre, your homeworld already buried so young among the aeons. Yet now you fill the skies where we watched a million sunsets with flame and contrails, paying no heed to the hard lessons the universe has tried to teach you. Are you a breath of life to invigorate a complacent world, you earthhumans, or an insidious cancer which must be excised?”
— Lady Deirdre Skye, “Conversations With Planet”
In the game, the Aerospace Complex is a very important facility. Relying rather obviously on Doctrine: Air Power, it serves as the morale and healing equivalent of a Command Center for air units. But unlike the other two, it does not have an associated Secret Project that delivers the benefits to all bases, a la the Command Nexus or the Maritime Control Center. Such a project was added in the expansion, but I believe that its addition was a balance mistake, added solely because of a desire to add “more cool stuff” than from a desire to address an issue with the gameplay.
The reason for that is the other main in-game effect of the Aerospace Complex. Unlike the others, it has an economic effect. A little later in the game it becomes possible to build satellites that can supply resources to every one of a faction’s bases at once. These effects are doubled for a base that has an Aerospace Complex, modeling the implied infrastructure that makes it easier to get to and from orbit from this base.
In addition to those two main bonuses, an Aerospace Complex also grants a +100% defensive bonus to air units that are directly defending the base, in a way that’s very similar to a Perimeter Defense for land units. Though this bonus seems very strong, it rarely comes up in practice because most air-to-air combat takes place out in the open and not above the domes of a given point base.
But all of that pales in comparison to this quote and its implications. We see here that Lady Deirdre wrote a book at some point in the implied canon called “Conversations With Planet”. And, in this book, she records the words of the voice of Planet in the style that we saw them in the earlier dream sequences. The link between this quote and Aerospace Complexes is clear: Planet speaks of seeing flame and contrails fill the sky. And we know from the tech tree that this sight must seem deeply alien to Planet in a way it would not for earthlings, as the atmosphere isn’t filled with lots of free oxygen and the fossil fuels that make powered flight possible are synthetic.
But it is interesting to note that the question Planet poses to Deirdre – presumably in her head – matches the Gaians’ stated concerns in language they would find congenial. By now, the player already knows that they believed that humanity was the cancer that lead to the death of Earth. And radical environmentalists in the present day (who tended to get more press in the late ’90s) have used that language at times. So the question before the perceptive reader is how much of this confluence is based on the fact that the Gaians were always right, insofar as their ideology naturally aligns with that of the alien mind that guides the ecology of Planet?
The other possibility worth considering is that this conversation is making use of the concepts and symbols that are already prominent in Deirdre’s mind. We know from the video to the Empath Guild that symbols are the key to telepathy. And we know that the alien creatures operate on telepathic principles. So it would follow that, whatever the Planetmind is, it is communicating with Deirdre telepathically. It is therefore possible that instead of being the repository of ancient wisdom the Gaians believe it to be, Planet is instead taking up this pose because it is the best and most effective way to communicate with Deirdre herself.