The Divine Ascension is one of the six playable factions in Pandora: First Contact. The Divine Ascension, also known as Via Salvatum is a theocratic monarchy and is led by Lady Lilith Vermillion. The Divine Ascension begins the game with one Colonial Trooper.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
- Fanatic: -25% unit cost
- Aggressive: +25% power when attacking
- Zealous: +2 morale
- Conservative: -33% research from scientists
History[edit | edit source]
God has finally shown us path to a new paradise, so do not fear my brothers and sisters -- for I am destined to be the shepherd leading you to salvation.
-- Lady Lilith Vermilion, The Path to Salvation
The Divine Ascension is a theocratic monarchy and the colourfully-named Lady Lilith Vermillion is its absolute monarch. Born as simple Lily Maroon in 2010s rural America, Lily’s wild early years hardly gave signs that she would one day be regarded as next-to-god by billions; drinking, gambling, blackmail and more sordid sins all came naturally to her.
Her first steps on the path to godhood came, though, when a nerdy drinking buddy signed her up to a major social network as a prank. Never having used these, Lily saw, where few had before, the potential for social networks as a natural outgrowth of evangelical organisations –- and as a tool for blackmail.
Taking elements of major modern cults, and using her underworld connections, Lily founded the world’s first entirely online religion in 2038. Then the second. And third. In fact, Lily Maroon renamed herself Lilith Vermillion and with the help of Togra’s off-shelf AI designers founded hundreds of new religions, some riffing on old favourites like The Greek Autodocs Church, some entirely new, like Blessed Abduction, but all plugged deeply into user’s online lives. Each one was subtly different, but all had Divine Ascension and the unity of all religions as their heart, their eventual revealed truth.
That wasn’t Divine Ascension’s biggest secret though. The precepts of the church were extremely hierarchical and to reach the next level of salvation believers had to put their trust in their higher-ups -– revealing their darkest secrets as part of ascension rituals, projected live on the social network. Essentially, every step up the hierarchy knew the dirty secrets of every person below them. And Lady Vermillion, aided by data-mining AIs, sits at the top. Now imagine trying to leave such a network. You’re all being automatically-blackmailed, your income siphoned, your friends and family incentivised to betray doubters so they can be “healed” at the special reformation camps in Siberia. There’s no way out save to disappear entirely.
By the 2040s, Divine Ascension was one of the largest religions on Earth. Some of the followers truly believed; those who didn’t kept their mouths firmly shut. But now the really strange part started. Lilith, a grasping materialist since birth, finally found herself with the luxury to rest, think; and found that she genuinely had faith, in herself, as a god. Now this might have been a result of the trauma she received after an assassination attempt, and it didn’t change anything about the cruelty and authoritarianism of her organisation – but it changed the religion’s aims. She was a god; now she wanted a planet of her own.
Using the fabulous wealth of a tithe drawn from a billion people, Lilith had Noxium build her a fabulous space cathedral, a gothic rotational habitat that was decorated as a prayer wheel, turning the sun’s rays into rotational force, and hence prayer, and incidentally gravity. With her faithful few, she retreated into meditative cryo-pods in the hub of the habitat. Here they lay, ageing only slowly, waiting for the discovery of a world she could call her own – and the science to get there.
In the 2080s, the Pandora announcement invigorated her religions. Vermillion’s instructions were clear –- her cryo-pod and those of the faithful were loaded straight into her custombuilt Noxium colonization ship and sent to the stars, while her fearful faithful prayed for her deliverance (and many secretly hoped she never came back).
On Pandora, Lady Lilith Vermillion sits at the top of a social pyramid that combines the worst parts of Facebook, Scientology and North Korea. Her zealous followers worship her for being God’s instrument to express his will among men. She believes it’s her destiny to show her people the right path, and lead them to a prosperous future in a promised land. Pandora is that promised land. Woe betide any heathens who get in her way.