“As we approached we were confronted by the ruined splendor of Sparta Command. The true immensity of the place became instantly apparent as our Quantum Tank crunched over the rubble and parked next to a shattered bunker, but the extent of the destruction took weeks to assess. The shielded datacore had sustained several massive breaches and smoke still billowed from the numerous cannon ports. There were few signs of human life.”
— Lady Deirdre Skye, “Our Secret War”
This facility quote is something of an Easter egg in the game. Even though building a Headquarters doesn’t require any prerequisite technology at all, most players won’t find themselves needing to build one. That’s because their first base starts with a Headquarters for free. And you can only have at most one base designated a Headquarters. If the player already has one active, building another one causes the capital to move to the new location.
The unique Headquarters is intended to model the seat of government for the faction. This is why the energy inefficiency penalties are based on distance from the capital. If a faction does not have an active Headquarters because the previous capital was destroyed or captured, then every base is treated like they are very far away from the capital – spiking energy losses – until a new Headquarters is set up.
Upon building a new Headquarters for any reason, the player gets this quote from Lady Deirdre, describing the aftermath of the fall of Sparta. Obviously this marks the final moment after which the Spartans are no longer a Great Power with a chance to win the game. So this is pivotal from a canonical perspective. If nothing else, it proves definitively that Lady Deirdre and the Gaians were the ones who brought the Spartans low.
Because there’s no dependent technology to pin this down precisely on the timeline, I struggled to determine where this should go in the narrative. Colonel Santiago has not been heard from since the quote to the Nano Factory back on the ninth-tier, so in theory the power of the Spartans could have been broken anytime between then and the end of the game.
I settled on the twelfth-tier for two reasons. The first is that Deirdre refers to her ride as a “Quantum Tank”. In the default naming schemes used by the unit workshop, this could refer to a Hovertank with a Quantum Reactor or one sporting a Quantum Laser. In my view, it’s most reasonable to assume both.
That means that the final battle was fought after the Gaians had Quantum Machinery and fielded at least one Quantum Tank unit. We know from earlier quotes that Deirdre herself has observed battles in person from the field before, so it’s possible that she’s riding along with the prototype. The alternative conclusion is that Quantum Tanks are more of a mainline unit for the Gaians by this time, which would push the time frame a little further into the future.
In some sense, though, pinning this event down precisely to tier doesn’t matter as much up here as it might otherwise have. We have concluded from CEO Morgan’s Quantum Converter quote that, in canon, it takes no more than twenty years to get from the twelfth-tier to the end of the tree. Events are progressing very quickly in game time as the canon tale approaches its end.
The reason why I didn’t push this into a later tier was because of the University’s declaration of war against Planet and, by extension, the Gaians in the Temple of Planet quote. I do not get the sense that Zakharov was geared up and ready to fight. Nor does it seem as if his decision materially effected the outcome of the Gaian-Spartan War.
All of that is well and good. But the most interesting thing to me about this quote is the description of the battlefield. Sparta Command has been blown to rubble. The datacore – presumably the Command Nexus – has massive breaches in it. There’s smoke billowing from all the destroyed weaponry. And almost everyone is dead.
This isn’t what a battlefield looks like after a successful psionic attack; the Gaians won this final battle with conventional weapons. Against a dedicated Spartan force that fought basically to the death. For Sparta, it was probably always going to come down to victory or death. And, in canon, they seem to have found their glory even in final defeat.