The Dominion of Nova Britannia, commonly known as Nova Britannia, is a dominion of the United Kingdom and an independent nation located in the western half of Beta Region of planet Venus. The dominion was established in 2006 from the unification of several British settlements which had been established on the planet. From the beginning it was planned as an independent British dominion, although that goal was only achieved in 2006, with the full separation of Nova Britannia from the Britain, which administered the colony as an British Overseas Territory.
The nation was noted for being jointly formed by both the US and the UK with the Excalibur missions to Venus. Later, Britain colonized much of the Beta Region, but NASA administered the settlement of Excalibur as a research base for both the UK and the US. It was turned over to Nova Britannia in 2009. Geographically, Nova Britannia is mostly characterized by dry, rolling plains of Venusian grasses, similar to Earth's Western Pampas, that are ideal for growing cereals (Nova Britannia, despite its low population, produces the second highest amount of Venusian Wheat on the planet, after New Kamchatka). To the north, due to Venus' strange climate patterns, the dry plains quickly become lush rainforest fed by the hot, wet air currents over northern Beta Regio. The settlement of Excalibur is located in this region. At the eastern border of the nation lies the low Victory mountain range, pockmarked by Mount Thea and Rhea, some of the highest mountains in Venus.
The name of Nova Britannia means "New Britain" in Latin. Britannia itself was the name of the province of Roman-held Britain, and the name eventually was adapted into a personification of the island, similar to the United States' Columbia or Lady Liberty. As such, it was only fitting that Nova Britannia meant literally New Britain, and was to represent the territory. The name Nova Britannia was first popularized when Michael Foale, one of the members of the pioneering Excalibur-1 mission first stated when he touched down on the area: "Nova Britannia! That would make a fine name for a settlement here!" The name stuck, as the unofficial name for the missions, and when the Territory of British-held Venus had to gain a name for independence, Nova Britannia was the clear frontrunner. Following the Excalibur missions, the name Britannia and the figure experienced a huge rebirth in popularity both on Earth and on Venus.
Names of natural places in Nova Britannia are named after famous Britons or Commonwealth members, e.g. the Great Churchill Forest, or the Shakespeare Desert. Artificial places such as cities are named after many things, but usually aspects of mythology or places such on Earth, e.g. the primarily-Indian settlement of Ganges or the research facility of Excalibur.
Exploration and the Excalibur Missions
Before the 1990s, little was known about Beta Regio, save the basic topography gathered from satellites and orbital missions. However, as colonization of Venus heated up between the United States and the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, early satellites orbiting Venus showed the first signs of life on the continent, suggesting a rich and biodiverse region, and the Americans were quick to plan a future research base situated in the rainy north that would eventually grow into a full-fledged colony. However, settlement efforts in the area that would become Kennedy put the nascent effort to establish a base in Beta Regio on hold, as NASA could not commit enough resources into establishing yet another base in a virgin region of Venus.
Enter the British. Since the 1980s and the Soviet Union's first efforts on the colonization of Venus, many Britons saw expansion into Venus as a way to assert the UK's place on a global stage, and old imperial ambitions began to be rekindled, especially among more patriotic members of the UK, who successfully increased the budget of the UK Space Agency in 1987 to allow more serious efforts into the exploration of Venus. Public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of a British station on Venus, yet few saw a feasible way to get in on the Venusian scene, which was, at the time, dominated by the Americans and Soviets. Negotiations were opened with the US for a possible joint mission to Venus that would evolve into a colonization effort by the UK. The British Commonwealth was an enthusiastic supporter of a mission to Venus, and the vast manpower of the Commonwealth allowed for a robust space program to be built up over time, provided interest and funding remained steady. In 1992, the deal was finalized.
The Americans, wishing to counterbalance the Soviets' power on Venus, were all too happy to have a member of NATO go to Venus, and they happily agreed. The location was decided to be in Beta Region, a small continent in Venus between mostly Soviet-held West Aphrodite and the American colonies to the east, as a buffer between American and Soviet Venus, and for its flat terrain, presumed fertile climate, and the several rivers that snake through the canyons that scar the landscape.
Finally, on May 31, 1995, the spacecraft carrying four American and British astronauts/aethernauts lifted off. They landed in the northwest region of Venus, near a large coastal temperate rainforest, fueled by western winds that rained seemingly abnormally often. They named this area Churchill after the ex-British Prime Minister. Among many things, they discovered various new forms of life including a squid that lives in the trees, a tree-like fungus that has "slime molds" hanging from its many branches to trap flying organisms, and a seemingly manta-ray like organism but has amphibian-like skin that flies. Founded on the coast, a small research outpost named Excalibur carried out several missions for six months. Eventually the crew went home, but one of the major goals of the mission was to form the base of a future colony. Excalibur continued to be operated by NASA, with American and British astronauts and aethernauts being sent there until 2009, when it was peacefully handed over the the Nova Britannians.
Growth, Development, and Setbacks
From 1995 to 1997, Excalibur was the only colony Beta Region. NASA administered the colony under orders from the United States and United Kingdom. It was designed as a research colony, gathering data on the local flora, fauna, geology, and other features of the exotic planet, but Britain had her eye on the continent. Plans were made for a "Commonwealth Space Agency" of sorts to remain independent of NASA and further the cause of the Commonwealth, most notably Britain on Venus.
Back on Venus, however, it was different. Excalibur had a population of about 50 at maximum, mostly scientists and researchers that stayed on Venus for six months through a year. In 1996, a routine transporter did not come, due to the Metric and English system being both used on the spaceship, it did not work and was scheduled for repairs for two months. As such, much-needed seeds and supplies did not come, and the residents had to stay for six more months. Panic ensued, and the residents had to resort to hunting tree-squids, a practice much frowned upon, as no one knew what eating alien life forms would do or what diseases you would catch. All worked out until one man, a guard of the colony, fell ill with a strange illness. Dubbed "Rain Fever," as originally, it was thought to have been from drinking untreated rainwater. The man fell horribly sick, vomiting orange goo, begging for his fellow colonists to kill him until after one night, he just shut down. Doctors proclaimed him brain-dead. Eventually, it was found that a slime mold-like organism had been eaten by the squid. The squid had the mold in it until the man consumed cells of the mold. The mold was found to be feeding on his insides until migrating up to his brain to kill him. Further studies of the organisms followed. It was found that they molded their bodies to look like fruit that the squid consumed. They then killed the animal from the inside-out, feasting on its carcass until it finally destroys the brain.
Following the death of the man, general pandemonium ensued. A law was passed, giving Jim Franklins, an American guard of the colony that had been there in the original flight to Venus and had not left, emergency powers over the colony. He immediately banned the eating of anything found outside of the colony's walls. Instead, he planned on building an emergency greenhouse, as the seeds that had been sent there had not sprouted in Venusian soil. People, however eventually became starving, resorting to eating cockroaches that had flown over with them. Some left the colony, directly disobeying Franklins' orders. They were never found again. Security was tightened by loyal guards to Franklins, and no one was allowed outside.Eventually, however, the greenhouse was completed. The plants, however would take time to grow, and in November 11, 1996, 14 people left of the 50 asked Franklins and his cronies that they needed food to live, and not everyone had died from consuming the squids. Franklins disobeyed, and a riot begun. Despite Franklins and two other men being trained ex-soldiers, the gun store had been broken into and the guards were killed. Following this hunting began, and three more succumbed to this mysterious disease. In the end, only eight people were left, shadows of their former selves when the transport arrived. They were returned to Earth.
Following the Excalibur Disaster as it came to be known, the future of Nova Britannia was unknown. Public opinion on Nova Britannia, once heavily in favor, deeply dropped, with many doubting that the missions to Venus were safe altogether. While the colony remined inhabited and staffed by new scientists, the number of colonists were cut down by half, and due to new restrictions regarding travel to and from Venus, new members only arrived after a year, and the colonists were prompted to become more self-sufficiant, despite the Disaster. These changes helped to eventually propel Nova Britannia from a research colony to a full-fledged independent nation.
Over time, however, a way to counter the fungus was developed.