Though France controlled all commerce in Aetheric goods across Europe, the benefits for all could not be denied, and many common people in Unified Prussia and even Britain reaped the rewards of the new age of invention.
In Prussia, the finest architects embraced Aether-forged building materials and labour-saving industrial machinery, transforming the capital, Königsberg, into a gleaming marvel of towering iron and glass structures, rising almost to the clouds and serviced by passenger airships. In Britain, steam-conveyances zipped along city roads, fuelled by Aetheric carbon. All manner of mundane tasks began to be carried out autonomously by clanking devices of brass and iron, programmed with analogue task disks of Aetheric copper, or logic maps cut from slivers of Aetheric silicon or crystal. Whilst the death of the service industry in Europe signalled the rise of self-made men and the lower-middle-class, in nations such as Great Britain the cultural shift was a step too far, and the poorest people were made poorer still by the lack of manual work on offer.
The tale of hardship was repeated tenfold in Spain and Portugal. With no monarchy and a fractious government controlled by France, the countries quickly fell into misrule. Guerilla fighters took to the hills, fearing another French invasion, and eventually became feared bandits, preying on the very peasants they had once sworn to protect. To the north of France, the Dutch monarchy similarly fled to the East Indies. The Consulate, not wishing to repeat its mistake on the Iberian Peninsula, moved to take control of Holland immediately, setting up a trade alliance with the East Indies to take advantage of the newly strengthened links between those nations.
Over the following two decades, Europe flourished in spite of the animosity and problems. Trade in non-military Aether technology finally reached Russia, the Americas and the Orient, sparking never before seen technological expansion in those far-flung corners of the globe. Meanwhile, France continued its transformation into the centre of Aetheric development on Earth. Entire regions were given over to industry, and countless factory complexes churned out new contraptions, materials and weapons around the clock. Acres-long warehouses are built to store the newly forged wonders, and the smoke from factory furnaces blotted out the sun. Much of the rolling hills, pastoral forests and isolated villages that once characterized France were irrevocably transformed by mile upon mile of landscaped brick and iron concourses, cobbled roads and industrial complexes. The Consulate ruled supreme over this new regime, believing the sacrifice worthwhile in the name of worldwide peace, profit and progress. All the while, their scientists continued to unlock ever more ancient secrets from the strange, subterranean alien city; the existence of which remain the most closely guarded secret in the world.